New Delhi, May 12: Star Indian shuttlers Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth's chances of securing the ticket to the Tokyo Olympics are all but over after the Badminton World Federation on Wednesday (May 12) cancelled the last qualifying event in Singapore due to the coronavirus-related travel restrictions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already forced the cancellation of several tournaments in the last one year and the current development comes as a major jolt to the hopes of several shuttlers.
The tournament organisers Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) and BWF jointly agreed to cancel the Singapore Open scheduled for June 1-6. The Singapore Open, a Super 500 event on the BWF World Tour, was the last tournament offering Race To Tokyo ranking points inside the Olympic qualifying window.
"In the interests of all players, tournament personnel and the local community's health and safety, the event has been cancelled. BWF can confirm the tournament will not be rescheduled," the BWF said in a statement.
"All attempts were made by the organisers and BWF to provide a safe tournament environment for all participants. However, rising COVID-19 cases globally led to complex challenges in managing inbound travel."
The BWF said it will issue a further statement on Tokyo Olympics qualifying at a later date. The chances of London Olympics bronze-medallist Saina and Srikanth qualifying for the Olympics had hinged on the Singapore Open after the Malaysian Open (May 25 to 30) was postponed on May 7.
After the postponement of the Malaysian Open, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) had reached out to the world body, seeking clarity on the qualification scenario for its shuttlers. With Singapore suspending all flights from COVID-ravaged India, it was always going to be a difficult task for the Indian players, to travel to the country for the last qualifier. BAI, however, is yet to come up with its statement after the latest development.
Indian shuttlers who have already made the cut for the Olympics include PV Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth and the men's doubles pairing of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy.