PETALING JAYA: In what is a further blow to a group of shuttlers making last-ditch efforts to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, the Asia Badminton Championships (ABC) – slated from April 27-May 2 – has been postponed.
Due to the complicated pandemic situation, Badminton Asia had decided to push back their flagship event until after the Tokyo Olympics in July – which means it would no longer be part of the Olympics qualifiers.
The ABC became the second notable qualifier to be taken off the schedule following the cancellation of the German Open (initially scheduled for this week).
Following the completion of the just-concluded Swiss Open, Olympics hopefuls are now left with just three remaining opportunities to collect points – at the Indian Open (May 11-16), Malaysian Open (May 25-30) and Singapore Open (June 1-6) – should they proceed as planned.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) made it clear last week that there will be no more changes made to the Race to Tokyo qualification process after they extended its deadline from May 2 to June 15.
Although there was no official announcement made by Badminton Asia yet, the continental body had already disseminated an e-mail to their member associations to inform them about the ABC’s postponement last week.
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) secretary Datuk Kenny Goh confirmed that they have been notified about the matter.
The postponement of the Asian meet, however, did not come as a surprise as Badminton Asia had not been able to seek an alternative to replace China as the host.
It was learnt that Suzhou was supposed to be the host city, but the country’s borders remain shut.
Efforts to get other nations to host it also proved futile due to various travel restrictions imposed by respective governments in the continent.
Earlier last month, Badminton Asia had also cancelled their Asia Mixed Team Championships due to the same reason.
With as many as two crucial qualifiers now no longer in the picture, the Tokyo Olympics hopes are fast turning into a distant dream for four independent pairs – Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi, Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing.
Had the ABC went on, it could have made a world of difference for them because the tournament has been accorded a first-tier status by the BWF starting this year – on par with the World Tour Finals, China Open, Indonesian Open and All-England.
Winners of the Asian meet used to get 9,200 points but now under the new revision, champions receive a whopping 12,000 points.
Regardless, V Shem and Co also did not do themselves any favours for failing to contend for the Swiss Open title which ended yesterday – despite the absence of top shuttlers from China, Japan, Indonesia and South Korea.
The route is set to be tougher for them as all the big guns are expected to return in full force, especially at the Malaysian Open and Singapore Open which are the last two important tournaments before the Tokyo Games.