The India Open Super 500 tournament, one of the last three qualifying events for the Tokyo Olympics, has been postponed, the Badminton World Federation and Badminton Association of India announced on Monday.

The decision was taken after an emergency meeting with BWF, given the spike in the Covid-19 cases in New Delhi and an announcement of the lockdown in the city, the organising body said in a statement.

The event was planned to be held in a bio-secure bubble behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. The India Open is a Super 500 tournament. While the new dates are not known yet and there is no official word about this, it is unlikely to be during the Olympic qualification period, which ends on 13 June, 2021 with the final rankings to be published on 15 June.

The tournament was scheduled to be held at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall in New Delhi from May 11-16. However, with the recent record surge in Covid cases and uncertainty around the pandemic as well as the lockdown is in effect from Monday midnight, BAI said they were “left with no option” but to postpone the event.

“Considering the current challenges, BAI is left with no option but to announce the postponement of the tournament for the time being,” General Secretary Ajay Singhania said.

“We had an entry of 228 players and close to 300 peoples gathering including coaches, support staff and officials and the circumstances are such that the 2021 edition of the Yonex-Sunrise India Open seems, for now, a very risky affair. Several rounds of discussions were held with BWF as well as the Delhi Government and other stakeholders and accessing the safety of players and officials BAI needed to take this decision.”

The BWF World Tour Super 500 tournament was classified as one of the last few qualification tournaments for the Tokyo Olympics and had attracted players including Kenta Momota, Viktor Axelsen and several other top-10 players along with representation from 33 countries. The 2021 edition was scheduled to be held in a biosecure bubble with no spectators and media. The likes of Carolina Marin, Ratchanok Intanon were among those who had pulled out after their initial entries.

“It is unfortunate that we had to postpone it for the second time. But I am confident when situation will improve, we will conduct the tournament properly. The fresh dates has still not been decided. That is something BWF will let us know in time,” Singhania is quoted as saying by PTI.

It is a blow to Indian shuttlers who would have hoped for qualification points for Tokyo 2020. Currently, in the singles categories, PV Sindhu and B Sai Praneeth are in the qualification spots, while Satwiksairaj and Chirag Shetty are all but assured of a place in the men’s doubles.

“All attempts were made by organisers to conduct a safe tournament environment for all participants, but the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and gravity of the situation in Delhi left BAI no choice but to postpone the tournament,” the BWF said in their statement.

It had 228 (114 men and 114 women) entries from 33 different national associations, including China.

Syed Modi Super 300 event, which was slated for November 17 to 22, was also cancelled in the revised calendar last year.

BAI also said “training schedule for Olympic-bound shuttlers and probables will continue but rest camps will be postponed” in light of the situation. BWF had earlier postponed the Malaysia Super 750 (May 25-30) and Singapore Super 500 (June 1 to 6), making the events the last two Olympic qualifiers before the qualification period ends on June 15.

Asked when are the Olympic bound shuttlers likely to get vaccinated, he said: “Four days back we had a meeting, even sports minister was there and all agreed to get the vaccination done for our shuttlers but there is no deadline as such.”

India reported 2,73,810 new positive cases in the last 24 hours, the highest single-day surge taking the country’s caseload past the 1.5 crore mark. As many as 1,619 people have succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, reported PTI.

Delhi has been severely hit with 25,462 cases reported on Sunday. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced a six-day lockdown starting tonight till next Monday.