Saina, Srikanth's Tokyo hopes hang in balance due to travel restrictions ahead of Malaysian Open

Saina Nehwal is currently 22nd in the Race to Tokyo rankings. Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images for Falcon

Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth's chances of qualifying for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance with the Sports Ministry seeking a waiver of the travel ban from India to Malaysia. The Malaysian Open is scheduled from May 25 to May 30 and is almost the last chance for these two players to qualify for Tokyo.

A Sports Ministry statement said there were 19 days to go for the competition, and "with the dynamic conditions, possibility of travel cannot be ruled out completely just yet". However, time is running out for Saina and Srikanth. Malaysia Open was one of two remaining qualifying tournaments for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The qualification period ends on June 15 and the last qualification event is the Singapore Open, scheduled for June 1. However, Singapore has announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine period at a dedicated facility, as well as an additional seven days stay-at-home notice for those arriving from India. As a result, Indian players are unlikely to travel to Singapore either, effectively closing the door on Saina and Srikanth's Tokyo hopes.

The BAI said that the Sports Ministry had approached the Malaysian authorities requesting permission for the Indian team to participate, but the Malaysian government had declined. The travel ban came into effect from April 28, 2021.