HS Prannoy slams BAI for Badminton Asia Championships snub

HS Prannoy. GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images

A day ahead of the Badminton Asia Championships in Wuhan, China, Commonwealth Games medallist HS Prannoy has alleged that he, along with compatriot Sai Praneeth have been wrongfully left out of the tournament.

The Badminton Association of India (BAI) sent in just two entries for the men's singles - Kidambi Srikanth and Sameer Verma. Countries like Japan, Indonesia and China, Thailand on the other hand, have four players each in the men's singles draw.

Prannoy and Praneeth are ranked No 21 and No 20 in the world respectively.

"This is totally unfair," says Prannoy, who won bronze in the previous edition of the tournament. "Despite being eligible our names were not forwarded for the tournament. We only realised this when we saw players from other countries who are ranked below us participating."

In its release, BAI stated that they "were asked to send names of two players each for men singles and women's singles, three names each for men's and women's doubles and four for mixed doubles based the world ranking of players dated week of February 26, 2019." BAI said that Kindambi Srikanth (world ranking 6) and Sameer Verma (world ranking 11) were in the main draw as per the ranking eligibility list published by Badminton Asia and the same was followed to send the players for the Championships.

According to sub section 12.2 & 12.3 of the Badminton Asia Championships 2019 prospectus, each member association can send four entries of players/pairs ranked within 1-16, two falling between 17-32 and one above No 33. The total number of entries allowed per country in each event is four.

Out of the countries fielding four players each in the men's singles, one player each from Japan (Kazumasa Sakai), Malaysia (Chong Wei Feng) and Indonesia (Shesar Hiren Rhustavito) is ranked below both the Indians while Thailand have two such players (Sithikom Thammasin and Suppanyu Avihingsanon). All the above are fully in their right to do since the rules clearly state that two players can be drawn from 17-32 and one from 33 and below in the rankings.

This, Prannoy adds, isn't a one-off instance. "In 2016 as well, this happened, when and Ajay's (Jayaram) and my entries weren't sent. That was an Olympic qualification event. The reason I'm speaking out now is that next year this tournament will fall under the Tokyo qualifying cycle and we don't want this to happen again."

On the doubles front too there are grievances. Chirag Shetty and Satwik Sairaj, who were hoping to start their season at the May 1-6 New Zealand Open, claim that BAI have not forwarded their entries to the organisers. They will now have to have to settle for Challenger events in Brazil and Denmark.