NEW DELHI, February 7: India on Friday withdrew its women badminton team from the upcoming Badminton Asia Championships in the wake of fast-spreading coronavirus but the men’s team will compete at the event in Manila.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) had named a second-string women team for the tournament to be held from February 11 to 16 but a full-strength men’s side which features World Championship bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth.
“Unforeseen health hazard apprehension due to the Corona Virus outbreak has resulted in withdrawal of the women’s team for the upcoming Badminton Asian Championships, which is starting from Feb 11-16, 2020 in Manila, Philippines,” the BAI said in a statement.
“Badminton Association of India (BAI) had reached out to the concerned authorities in Badminton Asia (BA) for assurances regarding the current situation and necessary health advisory and precautionary measures taken.
“After receiving complete assurances from BA, BAI had discussed the same with the Indian squad, the men’s team agreed to travel and confirmed their participation however, the women’s team was withdrawn owing to concerns shown by parents and players,” BAI secretary general Ajay Kumar Singhania said.
The women’s was supposed to be led by young shuttlers Ashmita Chaliha and Malvika Bansod after Olympic medallists Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu decided to give the event a miss.
Saina and Sindhu decided to skip the event to focus on Olympic qualification.
The men’s team will leave for Manila on February 9.
India had fielded a full-strength men’s team while the upcoming group of shuttlers have been given a chance to showcase their prowess in the women’s section of the Badminton Asia Team Championships.
The Indian men’s team, which won the bronze medal in Hyderabad in 2016, will be spearheaded by Praneeth with former World No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy, Subhankar Dey and Lakshya Sen in the squad.
With Olympic qualification being the top priority, the event will give India’s elite men’s players a chance to garner crucial points ahead of the mega quadrennial games.
In the doubles events, the fast improving pair of Dhruv Kapila and MR Arjun would be looking to impress everyone in the tournament and also compliment the Thailand Open champions Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty in the team championships. (PTI)