Two of the world’s premier team events in badminton – Thomas Cup for men and Uber Cup for women – will be without five of 16 teams when the finals are played in Denmark from October 3.
Though India has decided to participate in both the events, it had to cancel preparatory camps prior to the main event because of the corona pandemic. The coaching camps were to be held from September 7.
Two of India’s top women players – PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal – looked doubtful starters as they questioned the holding of the prestigious team event when the corona pandemic was at its peak.
They are, however, part of the Indian teams announced for the Denmark finals early next month.
Late last week, Indonesia - the most successful team in Thomas Cup history - and 2010 Uber Cup winners South Korea became the latest countries to pull out of Thomas and Uber Cup Finals, further putting the event in doubt.
It is concern over the coronavirus pandemic that is perhaps forcing the nations to withdraw. Already, five of the 16 teams that qualified for both the Uber Cup and Thomas Cup have now pulled out of the flagship event in Denmark.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) confirmed on Saturday decisions by Badminton Korea Association and the Badminton Association of Indonesia to withdraw their teams from the TOTAL BWF Thomas and Uber Cup Finals 2020 in Aarhus, Denmark, said a BWF statement.
They join Thailand, Chinese Taipei, and Australia in withdrawing.
The Indonesians have won the men's Thomas Cup a record 13 times, although their last title came in 2002.
Indonesia won the women's Uber Cup three times.
South Korea won the Uber Cup in 2010 and has twice finished second in the Thomas Cup.
In spite of boycotts, the BWF has insisted the event would still go ahead after five nations were confirmed as having withdrawn and replacements were planned.
However, no placements have yet been confirmed and Hong Kong turned down the chance to be one.
This latest withdrawal of two leading badminton nations is a serious blow to organizers.
The showcase events were scheduled to run from October 3 to 11 in Aarhus In case they are held, they will mark the return of top-level badminton after the corona pandemic forced the cancellation or postponement of all events.
These tournaments were originally been planned for May, but were subsequently postponed to August and then delayed further because of a Danish Government ban on large gatherings.
India, which has never won any of these two flagship events of the World Badminton, canceled the warm-up camp for the Indian teams.
Subsequently, the Badminton Association of India announced that it would not go ahead with the camps following Sports Authority of India-imposed standard operating procedures (SOPs) and quarantine periods that would not leave enough time to conduct them.
Indian squads for the Thomas and Uber Cup finals in Denmark were thus announced without holding a camp. The squads are:
Men - Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap, Lakshya Sen, Subhankar Dey, Siril Verma, Manu Attri, Sumeeth Reddy, MR Arjun, Dhruv Kapila and Krishna Prasad Garaga.
Women: PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Aakarshi Kashyap, Malvika Bansod, Ashwini Ponnappa, Sikki Reddy, Pooja Dandu, Sanjana Santosh, Poorvisha Ram and Jakkampudi Meghana.