Former champion Viktor Axelsen has pulled out of the upcoming Badminton World Championships in Basel citing ongoing issues with his back.

The Danish star, who became World Champion in 2017, said he did ‘everything possible to get ready for the year’s biggest badminton tournament but it has not proved to be enough.

“I’m very sad and disappointed about the situation,” Axelsen said, according to a press release from Badminton Denmark.

“The World Championships is the biggest event of the year and I had obviously been looking forward to playing. I’ve done everything I could to get ready for the World Championships, but I must also be realistic and listen to my body and to the doctors’ advice,” he added.

Axelsen’s 2019 started off on a positive note after a injury-ridden 2018 season. He won the Barcelona Masters and India Open titles (defeating three Indians on the trot at the latter), and in between those two also won silver at the prestigious All England when he went down fighting against Kento Momota in the final.

The 25-year-old former world No 1 has since had a tough season as allergies kept him out of the European Games in June, and the ongoing back injury ruled him out of the high-profile Indonesia Open and the Japan Open recently.

“Viktor is one of the world’s best badminton players and was the biggest medal candidate for Denmark for the upcoming World Championships. Therefore, it is of course very unfortunate for both him and Denmark that he will not play at the World Championships,” a federation official was quoted as saying.

Kento Momota, the current world No 1, will once again be red-hot favourite to lift the crown when the World Championships kick off in Basel on 19 August.