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COVID-19: Pullela Gopichand urges BWF to think of ways for badminton resumption

The Olympic qualifiers were supposed to happen in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore along with India before the events were forced to be suspended.

SNS | New Delhi |

India’s national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand has said that he wants BWF to come up with “radical” solutions to restart the sport of badminton in the post-COVID-19 world.

He also suggested that conducting more tournaments in a single venue can be an innovative way to resume the sport after the COVID-19 virus subsides. Notably, the coronavirus outbreak had forced the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to suspend all events, including the Olympic qualifiers till July end.

“BWF should talk to health people and revise the format itself, the tournament structure itself and do whatever is required,” Gopichand told PTI.

“My view is if something radical needs to be done, then let’s do it and let’s go ahead with the sport,” he added.

“My concern is that, you are trying to shift the dates, probably there needs to be a change in thinking. If the same thing continues, and the whole entourage is travelling again to different countries then it is again risking players,” Gopichand said.

The badminton stars travel almost every week to a new tournament during the badminton season. Gopichand stated that this should change once sporting action resumes.

“I would say, planning of the tournaments has to be such that players can actually stay at one place and play more number of tournaments. It could be the next normal,” he said.

“If there are no spectators, and it is a TV and internet sport then how does it matter whether you are conducting it in three different places, just lock the players in one place for three weeks. Instead of doing the tournaments say Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in three different places, do it in one place,” he said.

The Olympic qualifiers were supposed to happen in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore along with India before the events were forced to be suspended owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

“You give men’s singles to one country, give women’s singles to one country and doubles to one country. So parallelly three tournaments can happen. In this way, players will not have to travel so much, they can be quarantined,” he said.

“If it is a draw of 32, it is only 16 matches per day. We can operate just two courts maximum, so that you don’t have to mix with many players. So basically, if you really have to move, you probably have to look at a radical change in format.”

While the entire country is under lockdown till 17 May to contain the contagious infection, the Sport Ministry is devising a plan for phase-wise resumption of national camps for athletes who will be traveling to the Olympics.

“I think luckily we are not an out and out contact sport, so it is better. So isolating smaller groups, and ensuring that people don’t interact too much is one way of at least starting things.”