Malaysia Open 2021: Saina, Srikanth’s Tokyo Olympics hopes at risk due to travel restrictions

If the travel ban continues then the seven of India’s shuttlers who have signed up for the 32 men’s single event will face a lot of trouble.

Saina sits 22nd in the women’s singles Olympic ranking and P.V Sindhu is at seventh. (Picture Credits: PTI)

Malaysia Open 2021: The participation of 19 Indian shuttlers in the Malaysian Open 2021 from May 25-30 is at a huge risk. Since April 27, the Malaysian government has barred the entry of any flights from India into Malaysia. 

With the tournament just four weeks away, the travel ban looks as indefinite as it can be for the time being. The number of cases in India have only worsened and are expected to rise considering India’s 1.4 billion population.

If the travel ban continues then the seven of India’s shuttlers who have signed up for the 32 men’s single event will face a lot of trouble. Indian players to look forward to in the event, in the men’s category are World No. 1 K. Srikanth  and B. Sai Praneeth, the 2019 World Championships’ bronze medallist. The women’s singles competition could also feel the absence of the world class P.V. Sindhu and former world No. 1 Saina Nehwal from the list.

In the doubles category, 10 doubles shuttlers are preparing for Malaysian Open 2021– accounting for three main draw berths in the men’s doubles and two each in the women’s and mixed doubles.

The recent developments persist, they would have a huge impact on Srikanth and Saina’s chances of making it to the Tokyo Olympics since this might be the last qualifying Open before the Games. 

Their qualification path was faced with difficulties since their last qualifying event– Indian Open (May 11-16), was postponed because of an unprecedented rise in COVID-19 cases.

Srikanth, the quarter-finalist in the Rio Olympics, is hoping to break the top 16 of the Race to Tokyo standings and is expected to join Praneeth for the Games in July.

“I don’t know what’s in store anymore. Ideally, the Olympics should have been originally scheduled for the end of this year, so there’s enough time for qualification events, ” said Srikanth in an interview with ESPN India recently.

“Personally, I think whatever is being played out now is a little unfair. I don’t think the world is ready to host tournaments at the moment.”

“It’s still not over for me, though. If I can manage the semi-final in Malaysia and the quarter-final in Singapore, that’ll be good for my qualification chances. Of course, that’s assuming these competitions take place.”

Saina, who won India’s first ever medal in badminton in London 2012 after clinching bronze, is also expected to take part in the Open to make a place for herself in the fourth successive Olympics.

Saina sits 22nd in the women’s singles Olympic ranking and P.V Sindhu is at seventh.



WRITTEN BY
Sportslumo Desk

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