All England put profits ahead of player welfare, decries shuttler

Spectators entering the Arena Birmingham to watch the All England finals on Sunday. (AP pic)

NEW DELHI: India’s former world No 1 Saina Nehwal said officials had put profits ahead of player welfare by allowing the All England to go ahead last weekend despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The competition was one of the few international sporting events to conclude Sunday amid the deadly outbreak, which has claimed thousands of lives across the globe.

“Only thing I can think of is that rather than the players’ welfare n feelings, financial reasons were given more importance,” Nehwal, who won bronze at the 2012 London Olympics, wrote on Twitter.

“Otherwise there was no other reason for the #AllEnglandOpen2020 to go on last week.”

Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen clinched his first All England title, while Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan regained the women’s singles crown.

Nehwal bowed out of the event in the first round and is racing against time to qualify for the Olympics scheduled to begin on July 24.

Several players took part in the All England Open — an Olympic qualification event — and Nehwal’s husband, Indian player Parupalli Kashyap, said the players were “under pressure” to play.

Badminton World Federation (BWF) have suspended all tournaments until April 12 due to the virus, badly affecting Olympic qualifying which closes on April 30.