BWF suspends all tournaments until April 12

Victor Axelsen beat Kidambi Srikanth to win the men's singles title at the 2019 India Open. PTI Photo/Arun Sharma

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has suspended all World Tour and sanctioned tournaments between March 16 and April 12, with the suspension coming into immediate effect following the All England Open currently underway in Birmingham. The decision was taken keeping in mind the heightened threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

The events that now stand suspended are the Swiss Open, India Open, Orleans Open, Malaysia Open and Singapore Open, apart from a number of Grade 3 events.

The India Open, a Super 500 that was to begin on March 24 in New Delhi, was at the centre of chaos with both the national federation and players confused over its eventual fate. The Badminton Association of India (BAI) had written to BWF earlier in the week seeking a postponement of the tournament following an unfavourable response from union ministries to go ahead with the event.

The BWF, however, was until late Friday unresponsive on the issue and the BAI was labouring with preparations. In the face of uncertainty and with no word from the BWF, Indian players in Birmingham scrapped their travel plans to Basel for next week's Swiss Open and boarded the flight back to the country.

The world body has been at the receiving end of players' ire over its indecision regarding the conduct of events.

This move will come as a welcome relief.

In its statement, the BWF said, "The escalation of the COVID-19 outbreak globally has led the BWF, in close consultation and consensus with its host member associations and Continental Confederations, to cancel or postpone all tournaments in this period due to heightened travel and quarantine restrictions in place and the subsequent extreme logistical complications this causes to the movement of badminton athletes."

Since a number of tournaments affected by the suspension fall within the Tokyo 2020 Games qualifying period that runs until April 29, the BWF said that it "will make a further announcement on regulations related to Olympic qualification points at a later date."

You can read more about how the pandemic is affecting Indian sports and athletes here.