Updated: January 14, 2022 9:38:22 am
Seven shuttlers, including India’s top stars Kidambi Srikanth and Ashwini Ponappa, have tested positive for Covid at the ongoing India Open Super 500 badminton tournament at the IG Stadium in New Delhi.
Eight more shuttlers have been withdrawn from the draw as they were either doubles partners or established close contacts of those who tested positive. Subsequently, the tournament saw 11 walkovers on Thursday.
On Monday, The Indian Express reported on key concerns expressed over the tournament not being held within a strict bio-bubble with only top players being accommodated in the sanitised tournament hotel.
Among those whose RT-PCR tests were found positive, only World Championship silver medallist Srikanth and former CWG doubles champion Ponappa were housed at the official hotel.
The other five — Mithun Manjunath, Simran Singhi, Ritika Thaker, Treesa Jolly and Khushi Gupta – had arranged their own accommodation for the tournament. The close contacts forced to pull out are Sikki Reddy, Dhruv Kapila, M R Arjun, Gayatri Gopichand, Sai Pratheek, Akshan Shetty, Utkarsh Arora and Kavya Gupta.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) said: “The players returned a positive result to a mandatory RT-PCR test conducted on Tuesday. Doubles partners deemed close contact of the seven players have also been withdrawn from the tournament.”
It said that “testing protocols have been implemented in accordance with Badminton World Federation and Badminton Association of India guidelines to ensure the health and safety of all participants”. Those who tested positive will be moved to a quarantine facility for the next seven days, with a second round of RT-PCR tests scheduled on Friday.
Being conducted after a gap of two years, India Open, the country’s premier tournament, was to offer an opportunity to Indians to play in home conditions. But due to the latest Covid surge, the field was thin and hollowed out of international participation. With sponsors and the world governing body keen on going ahead, Indian organisers stuck to their commitment.
The event has attracted marquee names like P V Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, men’s singles World champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore, and the iconic Indonesian doubles pair of Hendra Setiawan and Mohamad Ahsan. Most of the Indian participants will move to Lucknow next week for the Syed Modi Super 300 tournament followed by a Super 100 event in Odisha.
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