Senna Nehwal.Photo / Agence France-Presse
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Malaysia’s temporary ban on flights from India could just be the death knell for Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal*s hopes of qualifying for this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
A travel ban imposed in response to the deteriorating Covid-19 situation in India has cast doubt on the Indian contingent’s ability to participate in the Malaysian Open, which will be held from May 25-30.
The tournament is the last major event on the Olympic qualifying schedule, meaning failure to play will prove that any chance of Srikanth or Saina finishing in the top 16 in the men’s and women’s competitions respectively will end the Tokyo rankings. Srikanth is currently 20th in the standings, while Saina is 22nd.
The Badminton World Federation, Badminton Malaysia or Badminton India have yet to comment on the extent to which the travel ban will affect Indians’ chances of competing.
Defending world champion PV Sindhu, 2019 World Championships bronze medalist B Sai Praneeth and men’s doubles duo Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Aspiring Indians to qualify for the Olympics were dealt an early blow when the India Open, scheduled for May 11-16 in New Delhi, was postponed due to a surge in Covid-19 cases. A new date for the competition has yet to be announced, but it will no longer be an Olympic qualifier.
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