Coronavirus effect: No fans allowed in India Open

NEW DELHI: The India Open Super 500 tournament, a crucial event for the Tokyo Olympic qualification, will be held without any spectators due to the global novel coronavirus outbreak, Badminton Association of India (BAI) said on Wednesday.

The USD 400,000 tournament was under threat in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has claimed over 4000 lives and infected more than 100,000 people globally.

However, BAI and the Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Wednesday issued a joint statement, making it clear that the event will go ahead as originally planned adding that precautionary measures will be taken for the smooth conduct of the tournament.

"The YONEX-SUNRISE India Open 2020 to be staged in New Delhi from 24-29 March will go ahead as planned," the statement said.

"Enhanced precautionary measures will be in place to ensure the welfare and safety of players, their entourage and officials."

One of the precautions taken by the organisers is to restrict the entry of people inside the stadium.

"The India Open will be held as planned at the KD Jadhav stadium in Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium but to ensure safety of everybody we have decided not to allow any spectator this time," BAI General Secretary, Ajay K Singhania said.

"Fans can watch the matches on youtube for the initial days while Hotstar will show the matches from quarterfinal onwards," he said.

The cornavirus outbreak has already forced the postponement of four Olympic qualifying badminton events so far -- Lingshui China Masters (February 25 to March 1), Vietnam International Challenge (24-29 March 24-29), German Open (March 3 to 8) and Polish Open (March 26-29).

Given the health hazard, the Indian government has suspended all regular visas/e-visas granted on or before March 3 to nationals of Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan who have not yet entered India.

The government has also made a 14-day quarantine mandatory for the people coming from Republic of Korea, Iran and Italy to India.

According to the advisory, passengers arriving directly or indirectly from China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan must undergo medical screening at the port of entry.

The draw of the Indian Open includes shuttlers from most of these countries, including a number of top Chinese players such as He Bingjiao, Shi Yu Qi and Lin Dan, who were cleared to participate in upcoming BWF World Tour tournaments in Europe.

The BWF and BAI said it has reached the decision to host the event after "BAI consulted experts over the past few days regarding advisories issued by health authorities in India."

"BWF accepts that all relevant health, safety and logistical risks have been considered in this process," the statement read.

After India Open, the Malaysia Open World Tour Super 750 (March 31-April 5) and Singapore Open World Tour Super 500 (April 7-12) are the only two major events which fall inside the April 28 deadline for Olympic qualification.

Many top players such as two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, London bronze medallist Saina Nehwal and Rio Olympics quarterfinalist Kidambi Srikanth are racing against time to book their ticket to Tokyo.

BWF reiterated that it "is continuing to monitor all official updates on COVID-19 with no change to the intention to stage other HSBC BWF World Tour or BWF-sanctioned tournaments at this time."

 

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PTI