The Badminton Asia Team Championship, that kicks off in Manila, Philippines on Tuesday, is the latest in the many sporting events affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic in China.
Badminton Asia had to conduct a fresh draw for the men’s event as the teams from China and Hong Kong decided not to travel to Manila after the Philippines government made a rule that no one coming from these countries can enter the island nation without 14 days of quarantine period.
A 44-year-old Chinese tourist from Wuhan had died on February 1 in Philippines, which has reported three virus cases so far. The two others were discharged from hospital after their tests were reported to be negative.
The Indian women’s team had already pulled out of the competition due to coronavirus fears but the men’s team decided to travel to Manila as most of the players would benefit from the points earned in the competition in their race to Tokyo Olympics qualification.
The Indian men’s team has now been grouped with Malaysia and Kazakhstan in Group B after the re-draw with two teams from the group making it to the quarter-finals.
The B Sai Praneeth-led side will begin their campaign against Kazakhstan on Tuesday and will face Malaysia on Thursday.
While the Indian squad should be assured of the last eight spot from Group B, their medal hopes received a major set back after doubles specialist Satwiksairaj Rankireddy had to pull out of the competition due to an ankle injury sustained during the just concluded Premier Badminton League.
This would mean that Chirag Shetty may have to team up with either Dhruv Kapila or MR Arjun for the first doubles while one of the singles players will have to shoulder the burden of playing the second doubles.