Badminton chief defends calendar changes after outcry

KUALA LUMPUR: Badminton’s ruling body on Tuesday defended postponing the season’s finale until January — a decision that has sparked an outcry from players — saying it was the “best possible solution” given the coronavirus pandemic.

The virus has thrown the badminton calendar into chaos, with officials forced to repeatedly postpone competitions.

In the latest change, officials announced last week the three tournaments that make up the Asian leg of the world tour will take place in the Thai capital Bangkok in January.

The final tournaments of the 2020 season were originally scheduled for November.

Badminton World Federation (BWF) president Poul-Erik Hoyer insisted Tuesday it was the best outcome in a difficult year.

“Given the challenges we faced, this was the best possible solution under the circumstances,” he told a press conference.

“I am confident that with our safety protocols in place, the three events will kickstart badminton’s successful return in 2021.”

Several Danish players — including leading men’s doubles players Anders Skaarup Rasmussen and Kim Astrup — were reported to have reacted angrily to the news of the postponement.

Officials have acknowledged that changing the dates could affect world rankings and the 2021 season’s calendar.

Still, Badminton Association of Thailand president Patama Leeswadtrakul said strict measures would be in place to ensure the safety of players and officials at the Bangkok tournaments.

They included putting a “bubble” in place — like those implemented for the restart of other sports — and requiring players to take virus tests before flying to Bangkok and on arrival.

Earlier this month the BWF postponed the showpiece Thomas and Uber Cup after a string of countries withdrew.