India Open badminton delayed: How will it affect the Olympic qualification process?
As the India Open 2021, originally slated to run from May 11 to 16, was postponed on Monday due to the alarming rise in the number of of Covid-19 cases in New Delhi, the Indian shuttlers will have to wait longer to qualify for Tokyo 2020.
Premier Indian shuttlers PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth and Sai Praneeth will vie for a place in the singles event at the Olympics while the dynamic duo of Chirag Shetty-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy will aim to book their place in the men's doubles event.
Let us, however, take a look at the Tokyo 2020 qualification process for the badminton players.
How many quota places will be awarded?
BWF has set the total quota to 172 places for Tokyo 2020. It includes 164 qualification places -- 82 men and women each -- along with two places for the host country and six Tripartite Commission invitation places.
It should be noted that each NOCs/National Federations is eligible to send 16 badminton players (eight men and eight women) to Tokyo 2020.
Each category -- singles and doubles -- have two quota places for every NOC. The singles players should be ranked inside top 16 as of June 15, 2021 while the doubles pair should be within the top eight.
What is the last date/event for Tokyo 2020 qualification?
The qualification period for Tokyo 2020 has been divided into two parts as the quadrennial showpiece event was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The first period of qualification ran from April 29, 2019 to March 15, 2020 while the second is underway from January 4, 2021 to June 13, 2021.
Following the completion of the qualification period, BWF will publish the Race to Tokyo Rankings Lists on June 15, 2021, which will decide which athletes have qualified.
The Singapore Open, slated to run from June 1 to 6, will be the final event for Tokyo 2020 qualification.
How are Indian shuttlers placed in Race to Tokyo?
In the men's singles, Kidambi Srikanth (World No.14) and Sai Praneeth (15th) are placed within the top-16, and remain in contention to secure berths for Tokyo 2020.
PV Sindhu (7th), who won the silver medal at Rio 2016, is the best-ranked Indian shuttler in Race to Tokyo 2020. 2012 bronze-medalist Saina Nehwal, ranked 19th, will however have to improve in the remaining events to qualify for the Olympics.
In the men's doubles, Chirag Shetty-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy still have a fair chance to make a cut, as they are currently ranked 9th.
India's qualification in the women's doubles and mixed doubles, however, looks improbable as Ashwini Ponnappa-N Sikki Reddy are placed on the 25th place while Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Ashwini Ponnappa are No. 20 on the list.