Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth will be in a position of disadvantage as the Badminton World Federation has decided to maintain the Olympic points earned in the qualification period before the suspension of the circuit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The BWF will introduce an extended qualification period for the Tokyo 2002 Games next year.
“An extended Olympic qualification period will be introduced from Week 1-17 in 2021 and includes the select number of tournaments that were postponed, cancelled or suspended due to Covid-19,” BWF said in a release.
The priority was to ensure a fair solution to the disrupted qualification system in order to qualify players for the postponed Games. Both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have approved the amendments.
“It has been a thorough process with the close and valuable consultation of the Athletes’ Commission to consider how best to make adjustments to the Olympic and Paralympic qualification system,” said BWF Secretary-General Thomas Lund.
“We feel this is a fair solution for all athletes and it will be our first and main priority to conduct these tournaments as part of badminton and Para badminton’s adjusted return in the wake of COVID-19.
“Although we aim to resume international tournaments towards the end of 2020, we have chosen to resume the Olympic and Paralympic qualification process only in 2021 to ensure that travel restrictions and other related impacts of COVID-19 are limited.”
- All ranking points earned at tournaments completed during the original Olympic qualification period will be maintained under the Race to Tokyo ranking list.
- An extended Olympic qualification period will be introduced from Week 1-17 in 2021 and includes the select number of tournaments that were postponed, cancelled or suspended due to COVID-19.
- These eligible tournaments within the new qualifying period must be completed by Week 17 in 2021.
- Tournaments rescheduled for the end of 2020 outlined in the revamped BWF Tournament Calendar 2020 released last week will not count towards qualification. Only the 2021 editions of each tournament.
- Such eligible tournaments within this new qualifying period should preferably take place in the same corresponding week from 2020 to 2021.
- If this is not possible, BWF will allow sanctioning on another date within Week 1-17 in 2021 subject to approval.
- Players from China and Hong Kong China will be eligible to earn points from the 2021 Badminton Asia Team Championships as representatives from those Member Associations were not able to participate in the 2020 Badminton Asia Team Championships in Manila due to COVID-19 travel restrictions imposed on athletes from those nations and territories by the Government of the Philippines.
This approach has only been implemented for this singular team tournament impacted by the COVID-19 situation as no other team tournaments are included in the extended Olympic qualification period. However, players are offered a range of individual tournaments to enter.
A revised BWF Tournament Calendar 2021 with the actual dates for these eligible tournaments will be revealed later.
Only one tournament within the original Paralympic qualification period was cancelled due to COVID-19 – the Spanish Para Badminton International 2020. It has now been included in the adjusted qualification system within a period from 1 January to 28 March 2021.
- All ranking points earned at tournaments completed during the original Paralympic qualification period will be maintained under the Race to Tokyo Paralympic Ranking list. A date for the Spanish Para Badminton International will be announced in due process.
“This change will allow players to complete their planned run for Paralympic qualification. It will also allow players to be able to live up to eligibility criteria as stated in the regulations, which is a minimum of three tournaments,” added Lund.
BWF is still working on the exact model for the unfreezing of all world rankings in a staggered way to avoid any extreme drop off of points that would affect the ranking structure.
There are also ongoing considerations around the mandatory player regulations and other aspects of the BWF regulations, including new procedures for hosting international tournaments in the safest and most comfortable way for all participants.
A further announcement will be made once all circumstances have been carefully considered.