New Delhi, April 29
Saina Nehwal and Srikanth Kidambi face a race against time to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, and the travel ban for passengers from India has made their task even more difficult. Just two more Olympics qualifiers are remaining — Malaysia Open (May 25-30) and Singapore Open (June 1-6) — before the June 15 deadline. The world’s top-16 ranked players on that date would qualify automatically. Saina is currently at the 22nd spot in the Race to Tokyo rankings, while Rio Olympics quarterfinalist Srikanth is at the 20th position.
The hopes of Saina and Srikanth are on the edge especially after the India Open Super 500 (May 11-16) was postponed due to the second wave of the pandemic in India. Malaysia and Singapore have temporarily imposed travel bans from Covid-affected India, making things more complicated.
Indian badminton players are likely to leave for Malaysia and Singapore via Doha to participate in the last two qualification events.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) today disclosed it is trying to work out a solution for travel to Malaysia and Singapore. “With the current travel restrictions, Indian players will not be able to take direct flights… Indian shuttlers are most likely to travel via Qatar,” a BAI said.
“We have already submitted the travel documents of our Olympic-bound and Olympic probable players (PV Sindhu, Sai Praneeth, Chirag Shetty, Satwik, Saina Nehwal, Srikanth, Ashwini Ponnappa, and Sikki Reddy) and officials for visa processing,” the statement added.
“Though there is a ban on the issue of visa for Indians except for sports related travel activities, visa is available on certain terms and conditions. We are in touch with the Member Associations of Malaysia and Singapore for the necessary documentations,” BAI said. — TNS