Thailand have withdrawn from badminton’s Thomas and Uber Cup Finals after former world champion Ratchanok Intanon and other players pulled out over coronavirus fears, an official and her coach said.
Chinese Taipei – the team of women’s world number one Tai Tzu-ying – and Australia are also skipping the tournaments, which will be played in a bio-secure ‘bubble’ in Denmark in October, the Badminton World Federation said.
The twice-postponed Thomas and Uber Cup finals, the men’s and women’s world team championships, will be the first international tournaments since the pandemic brought badminton to a halt in March.
BWF said in a statement that the “Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2020 in Aarhus, Denmark will proceed as planned despite the withdrawal of Thailand’s men’s and women’s teams. Badminton Association of Thailand cited special circumstances related to Covid-19 in addition to injuries to key players in making the decision. Replacement teams have yet to be announced.”
Badminton Association of Thailand president Patama Leeswadtrakul said separately that the decision was triggered by the withdrawal of several players.
“Despite Denmark’s strict measures and procedures applied to players... it’s understandable for some of the full-team players to withdraw because they are concerned about the pandemic,” she said.
Ratchanok’s coach Patpapol Ngensrisuk told AFP that the world number five was worried about catching coronavirus ahead of next year’s postponed Tokyo Olympics.
“Ratchanok is very concerned about Covid-19 because she has already qualified for the Olympics. So if she contracts the virus, then she is worried about her future (at the Games),” Patpapol said.
“Her main goal right now is the Olympics.”
However, after intervention from the country’s governing body, India star PV Sindhu, the reigning world champion, has reversed her decision to skip the Uber Cup,
Sindhu had previously pulled out citing a family function, but she has now changed her plans following a request from Badminton Association of India chief Himanta Biswa Sharma.
Two other tournaments will be held in Denmark after the Thomas and Uber Cups on October 3-11, followed by three in consecutive weeks from November 10 in Asia, at locations that are yet to be announced.
(With AFP inputs)