File Pic

New Delhi: The India Open Super 500 tournament, a crucial event for the Tokyo Olympic qualification, will be held without any spectators due to the global novel coronavirus outbreak, Badminton Association of India (BAI) said on Wednesday.

The US $ 400,000 tournament was under threat in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has claimed over 4000 lives and infected more than 100,000 people globally.

However, BAI and the Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Wednesday issued a joint statement, making it clear that the event will go ahead as originally planned adding that precautionary measures will be taken for the smooth conduct of the tournament.

"The YONEX-SUNRISE India Open 2020 to be staged in New Delhi from 24-29 March will go ahead as planned," the statement said.

"Enhanced precautionary measures will be in place to ensure the welfare and safety of players, their entourage and officials."

One of the precautions taken by the organisers is to restrict the entry of people inside the stadium.

"The India Open will be held as planned at the KD Jadhav stadium in Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium but to ensure safety of everybody we have decided not to allow any spectator this time," BAI General Secretary, Ajay K Singhania said.

"Fans can watch the matches on youtube for the initial days while Hotstar will show the matches from quarterfinal onwards," he said.

The cornavirus outbreak has already forced the postponement of four Olympic qualifying badminton events so far -- Lingshui China Masters (February 25 to March 1), Vietnam International Challenge (24-29 March 24-29), German Open (March 3 to 8) and Polish Open (March 26-29).

Given the health hazard, the Indian government has suspended all regular visas/e-visas granted on or before March 3 to nationals of Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan who have not yet entered India.

The government has also made a 14-day quarantine mandatory for the people coming from Republic of Korea, Iran and Italy to India.

According to the advisory, passengers arriving directly or indirectly from China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan must undergo medical screening at the port of entry.

The draw of the Indian Open includes shuttlers from most of these countries, including a number of top Chinese players such as He Bingjiao, Shi Yu Qi and Lin Dan, who were cleared to participate in upcoming BWF World Tour tournaments in Europe.

The BWF and BAI said it has reached the decision to host the event after "BAI consulted experts over the past few days regarding advisories issued by health authorities in India."

"BWF accepts that all relevant health, safety and logistical risks have been considered in this process," the statement read.

After India Open, the Malaysia Open World Tour Super 750 (March 31-April 5) and Singapore Open World Tour Super 500 (April 7-12) are the only two major events which fall inside the April 28 deadline for Olympic qualification.

Many top players such as two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, London bronze medallist Saina Nehwal and Rio Olympics quarterfinalist Kidambi Srikanth are racing against time to book their ticket to Tokyo.

BWF reiterated that it "is continuing to monitor all official updates on COVID-19 with no change to the intention to stage other HSBC BWF World Tour or BWF-sanctioned tournaments at this time.

Indian Open golf off

GURUGRAM: The prestigious Indian Open golf tournament was on Wednesday postponed due to the global novel coronavirus outbreak with the organisers promising to reschedule the event at "some point" later this year. The event was scheduled to take place from March 19-22 at the DLF Golf and Country Club here. "The decision was made following consultation between the Indian Golf Union , the tournament's co-sanctioning partners - the Asian Tour and the European Tour - and the tournament title sponsor Hero MotoCorp Ltd, after the latest public health travel advisories announced by the Indian government," the Asian Tour said in a statement.

SAI closes shop in Bengaluru

BENGALURU: The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has locked down its southern centre here as a precaution in the wake of the city recording four coronavirus cases in two days.

With four new coronavirus cases being reported, the SAI south centre chose to close the facility on Tuesday. Also, those training at the facility have been advised not to leave the campus keeping in mind the extraordinary situation.

"In view of the coronavirus situation, it was decided to lock down the SAI centre here. As top athletes train here, we cannot take chances with their health and hence the move," a source said.

Among those training at the centre including the national men's and women's hockey teams, which have booked berths in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, athletes and sportspersons from various other disciplines.

Pune events suspended

PUNE: In view of five positive cases of coronavirus in Pune, the district administration has decided to suspend an ongoing multi-sport tournament, and invoked provisions of the Disaster Management Act to implement strict measures to check spread of the disease.

As a precaution, the Pune Municipal Corporation has put off the 'Mahapaur Chashak' sports event, currently underway here in Maharashtra. Athletes from various districts in the state were participating in the event organised by the city civic body.

"In view of the positive coronavirus cases reported in the city, we have decided to suspend the sports tournament in which 36 types of sports are being played.

(For all the latest News, Mumbai, Entertainment, Cricket, Business and Featured News updates, visit Free Press Journal. Also, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and do like our Facebook page for continuous updates on the go)

Free Press Journal