COVID case ends India's challenge at SaarLorLux Open

Indian badminton players Lakshya Sen, Ajay Jayaram and Subhankar Dey pulled out of the tournament as a precautionary measure.

By Rahul Venkat

Defending champion Lakshya Sen withdrew from the Super 100 SaarLorLux Open in Saarbrucken, Germany after his father DK Sen tested positive for COVID-19, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) confirmed on Wednesday.

Fellow Indian badminton players Ajay Jayaram and Subhankar Dey will not compete in the tournament either for “having been in contact with a positive case within their team entourage” according to the Badminton World Federation (BWF).

“All three players and the team entourage have been placed into isolation, in line with directives from the local health authorities and BWF tournament health protocols,” the BWF added in the statement.

“All three players have tested negative for COVID-19 following the testing requirements for the tournament and are said to be in good health overall.”

Lakshya Sen and his father have decided to return to India but only after another round of tests. The Indian badminton player had received a bye in the first round and was scheduled to begin his title defence against USA’s Howard Shu on Wednesday. Shu has now been given a walkover.

Ajay Jayaram, who won against Belgian Maxime Moreels in the first round, was slated to play against Dutchman Mark Caljouw next while 2018 champion Subhankar Dey was to face Canadian Brian Young. Both Caljouw and Young will proceed to the next round.

The 19-year-old Sen, who returned to competitive action at the season-resuming Denmark Open two weeks back, had been training at the Peter Gade Academy in Denmark after his second-round exit.

Lakshya Sen, his father DK Sen, who also doubles up as his coach, and his physio arrived in Saarbrucken on Sunday for the SaarLorLux Open.

They were advised to travel to nearby Frankfurt, a three-hour train ride from Saarbrucken, to undergo a COVID test as per protocol.

The test results, which arrived on Tuesday, showed that Lakshya and his physio had tested negative, but his father returned a positive test, though he was asymptomatic.

Lakshya Sen then informed the tournament organisers and decided to forego the defence of his singles title in order to not put any of the other players in jeopardy.

Lakshya Sen had planned to train at the Peter Gade Academy after the SaarLorLux Open and was also invited to train at France’s national sports center. However, those plans have now been shelved.

The withdrawals and Malvika Bansod’s first-round exit means that the Indian challenge at the SaarLorLux Open has now ended.