PETALING JAYA: The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) sees the one-year postponement of the Summer Olympics as a blessing in disguise for national shuttlers.
Speaking to FMT at the BAM invitational championships, the country’s first organised badminton tournament since the MCO last March, BAM secretary-general Kenny Goh said the announcement presented a “silver lining” for the team.
“We should be able to prepare ourselves better with the postponement. It gives our players more time and opportunity to train.”
He said the interruption could provide the team with a strategic advantage since it could hamper some of Malaysia’s main rivals.
“For some countries with older players in their teams, one year makes a big difference, but the majority of our players are comparatively young and it could be good for us.”
He said he was glad that BAM now had an extra year to build on the shuttlers’ strengths and chip away at their flaws.
This week’s invitational championship pitted Akademi Badminton Malaysia’s best players against one another in an internal tournament featuring the sport’s new competitive SOPs.
Some of Malaysia’s brightest Olympic hopes participated, with the country’s number one ranked singles and doubles players all taking part.
Tournament SOPs include outlawing handshakes, limiting numbers in the playing hall, minimising technical officials on the court and requiring them to wear face shields and masks. However, all these regulations are subject to change in line with government recommendations.
While Olympic training will continue as normal, Goh cast some doubt over the number of external competitions the players will have access to in the months ahead, given that some tournaments scheduled for September have already been suspended.
“We’re monitoring the situation daily, and after seeing the numbers go up a bit and some states going from green to yellow zones, we have decided to postpone some of our national tournaments,” he said
The BWF Malaysia Open, one of the international tour’s premier events, was originally set to begin in March before being tentatively postponed to November. BAM expects a verdict from the Badminton World Federation by the end of the month.
BAM hopes that by then, and certainly by the time the Tokyo Olympics is held, fans will be allowed back into stadiums.
Last March, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC president Thomas Bach announced that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games would be postponed to the summer of 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.