Danish shuttler urges BWF to suspend tournaments over virus

DENMARK: Danish shuttler Hans-Kristian Vittinghus has called on badminton’s world governing body to follow the example of other sports and suspend international tournaments because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The PGA Tour’s Players Championship was halted after one round and on Friday the Australian Formula One Grand Prix was scrapped after a crew member from the McLaren team tested positive for the coronavirus.

A host of badminton events have been impacted by the virus in the leadup to the Tokyo Games, which start in July, but the Badminton World Federation (BWF) have said they will not make adjustments to the Olympic qualification period.

This month’s German Open, an Olympic qualifying tournament, was cancelled while another in Vietnam was postponed from March to June. The China Masters and Polish Open were both postponed while the Indian Open will be played without fans.

“I honestly don’t get it,” the 34-year-old Vittinghus, ranked 42nd in the world, said on Twitter.

“The ATP Tour is suspended for six weeks, the NBA season is on hold, football leagues in several countries are postponing matches … but the international badminton circuit keeps going?

“In international badminton we just stopped shaking hands… how does this make sense? … Why are we so special that we should keep on going?”

“I strongly urge BWF and the continental federations to show strong leadership in this extraordinary situation and suspend all international badminton immediately.”

BWF did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Players are currently faced with the choice of risking their health by travelling to tournaments or pulling out and potentially hurting their chances of qualifying for the Games.

The top 16 singles players in the qualification race, limited to two athletes from the same nation, are guaranteed spots.

“They (BWF) seem to be taking this too lightly,” India’s world No 61 Ajay Jayaram tweeted.

“At the very least I hope the fines, if players withdraw, are waived off considering the circumstances.”

The flu-like virus, which originated in China last year, has infected more than 134,000 people globally and killed over 4,900, according to a Reuters tally of government announcements.