March 6, 2020 / 9:46 AM / a month ago

Indian players skip All England badminton over coronavirus fears

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Seven Indian badminton players have pulled out of next week’s All England Open championships over coronavirus fears, the Badminton Association of India said, as the outbreak continues to disrupt sport events across the world.

A number of international sporting events have been cancelled or postponed because of the outbreak.

HS Prannoy, Sameer Verma and Sourabh Verma are the men’s singles players who have decided to withdraw while doubles specialists Chirag Shetty, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy have also opted out.

“They didn’t want to take a risk and some of them said their families and parents are worried with the current situation,” BAI general secretary Ajay Singhania said.

“It’s completely up to the players to decide if they want to travel.”

Several badminton events that were to serve as qualifiers for the Olympics have been cancelled or postponed. The March 11-15 tournament in Birmingham will award points towards securing Tokyo spots.

The top 16 singles players in the qualification race, limited to two athletes from any country, are guaranteed spots in the Tokyo Games, which begin on July 24.

Leading Indian women’s singles players PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal - both previous Olympic medallists - are making the trip to England, as are their male counterparts Kidambi Srikanth and B. Sai Praneeth.

Meanwhile, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has barred its athletes from attending any private or public functions.

Athletes are not being allowed to leave training camps taking place in different parts of India and have been barred from training with anyone from outside the camps, the AFI said in a statement.

Local media reported that the Indian archery team had pulled out of an Asia Cup World ranking tournament to be held from March 8-15 in Bangkok.

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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