Indian shuttlers Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy were cleared to compete in the Thailand Open after they tested negative for COVID-19, invalidating the previous positive results that forced them out of the tournament hours earlier on a chaotic Tuesday.
Both the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and Badminton Association of India (BAI) confirmed the development.
“Both Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy have been cleared to participate in the ongoing Yonex Thailand Open after the fourth-round tests reports confirmed that both shuttlers have been tested negative for COVID-19,” BAI said in a statement.
The national body said it was possible after the national body took up the matter with BWF.
“BAI have taken up the matter with topmost BWF officials to ensure if tests were negative, matches for respective players should be rescheduled and no walkover is given,” BAI added.
Earlier in the day, chaos gripped India’s campaign at the tournament when Olymic medallist Saina was forced out following a positive COVID-19 test, while Prannoy’s participation hung in balance after his sample came out negative following a positive result in a bizarre turn of events.
Former Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap too was forced to withdraw “due to close proximity” with wife and fellow shuttler Saina.
But the day, which also witnessed a shock first-round exit of reigning world champion and Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu, ended on a better note for the Indians following the two shuttlers’ clearance.
“Badminton World Federation (BWF) and Badminton Association of Thailand (BAT) can confirm three of the four players who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier today at the Asian Leg of the HSBC BWF World Tour have been cleared to take their place in the draw,” the apex body said.
“They are confirmed as Saina Nehwal (India), HS Prannoy (India), and Jones Ralfy Jansen (Germany),” BWF added in its statement.
The BWF said the said players who had earlier tested positive for the virus, are “not currently infected”.
“Nehwal, Prannoy and Jansen tested positive on the PCR test but their antibody IgG was positive. A positive antibody test means a person has been infected with the COVID-19 virus at some point in the past. It does not mean they are currently infected.
“The trio all contracted COVID-19 in late 2020. The committee was satisfied that they are not infected and do not pose a danger to the tournament.”
Saina and Prannoy had recovered from COVID-19 last month and along with the Indian team had been looking to participate in the Asia leg events comprising the Thailand Open (January 12-17), TOYOTA Thailand Open (January 19-24) and the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2020 (January 27-31).
In its statement, BAI added, “After continuous efforts from BAI including doctors being sent immediately when Kidambi Srikanth started bleeding were taken up. BWF and Badminton Thailand were cooperative and BAI thank all the stakeholders for their support including the tournament organisers.
The matches will be rescheduled for Saina and Parupalli Kashyap for Wednesday. However, Kashyap’s participation will depend on the result of his test conducted in the afternoon.
Regarding Prannoy, the BWF had said he would be retested after conflicting reports came out of earlier samples.
Saina was scheduled to play Kisona Salvaduray of Malaysia, while Kashyap was supposed to face Canada’s Jason Anthony Ho-Shue in the first round on Tuesday.
However, Prannoy is scheduled to play his first match on Wednesday, taking on Malaysia’s eighth seed Lee Zii Jia.
Saina, Prannoy, Kashyap along with RMV Gurusaidutt and Pranaav Chopra had tested positive last month and had served the mandatory quarantine period.
They had also cleared the pre-departure COVID-19 test and also tested negative on arrival in Bangkok.
The Indian contingent includes the likes of Olympic silver-medallist PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, Sourabh Verma, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty and Ashwini Ponappa.