Now the Olympic Games have been postponed, India’s badminton players can now reset their preparations for next year. However, there is still much uncertainty for many of them because the world rankings have yet to be frozen, with the process of qualification for the rescheduled Tokyo Games is still not clear.
All World Tour events were suspended by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) after the All-England Championship, because of the coronavirus, and they included all those that formed part of the Olympic qualifying process, which is due to finish on April 28th.
However, whilst all competitions have been cancelled, the world rankings continue, meaning players are dropping points that they won a year ago. Badminton rankings are determined by the number of points earned in sanctioned tournaments (the more prestigious the event, the greater the number of points on offer). Points are accumulated on a rolling 52 week period so, as each week passes, a player loses the points they gained a year ago, and adds those they have won in the tournament in which they have just competed.
Now there have been calls for the BWF to freeze the rankings, amidst concerns from some that they will have to try and qualify for the Olympics all over again.
So far, B. Sai Pranath, PV Sindhu, and the men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy are the other ones who have definitely clinched an Olympics’ spot, and the four can feel confident that, whatever happens, they will be headed to Tokyo, whenever it is rescheduled.
However, for India’s other shuttlers, everything else is up in the air, with current restrictions on movement meaning that they are forced to train at home, which is hardly ideal in the best of circumstances. And, with the lockdown expected to stay in force for weeks, or even months yet, deciding when to start Olympic preparations in earnest is a difficult judgement to make at this moment.
The BWF has to come up with a fair qualification process for those badminton players still aiming to compete for an Olympics spot, and freezing the world rankings seems a good place to start.