Indian badminton players are likely to travel to Malaysia next month via Doha, Qatar, for the Malaysia Open and subsequently travel to Singapore for the Singapore Open in June, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) said on Thursday.
The two tournaments are the last events that are included in the Olympic qualification calendar after the postponement of the Indian Open this month due to the worsening Covid-19 pandemic situation in the country.
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Doubts arose over whether Indians would be able to participate in the Malaysian Open due to the country imposing a temporary ban on flights from India. The tournament is scheduled to be held from May 25 to 30 while the Singapore Open is slated to be held from June 1 to 6.
"With the current travel restrictions, Indian players will not be able to take direct flights. We have checked for via routes and the alternatives are either from Sri Lanka or from Doha and Indian Shuttlers are most likely to travel via Qatar," said the BAI.
"Considering the current travel restrictions, Badminton Association of India (BAI) has written to the respective Associations of Malaysia and Singapore for clarity on what will be the exact regulations that will be applied to Indian shuttlers while they arrive in these respective countries," it further said.
Players will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period in Malaysia while for entering Singapore, they only need to have gone through a 14-day quarantine period in a country apart from India. It means that Indian players can go to Singapore directly from Malaysia and take part in the tournament without having to spend a separate 14-day quarantine.
It also means that the Indians will have to arrive in Malaysia at least on May 10.
While PV Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth and men's doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have virtually ensured qualification due to their ranking in the Race to Tokyo rankings, the Malaysia and Singapore events will be the last chance for Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth to secure qualification.
Saina, who won India's first Olympic medal in the sport in 2012, is ranked 22nd while former world No.1 Srikanth is 20th. Both players need to be within the top 16 to secure qualification.
"We have already submitted the travel documents of our Olympic-bound and Olympic Probable players ( PV Sindhu, Sai Praneeth, Chirag Shetty, Satwik, Saina Nehwal, Srikanth, Ashwini Ponnappa, and Sikki Reddy) and officials for Visa processing.
Though there is a ban on the issue of Visa for Indians except for Sports-related travel activities, Visa is available on certain terms and conditions. We are in touch with the Member Associations of Malaysia & Singapore for the necessary documentation," said the BAI.