Malaysia putting a temporary ban on flights from India may just prove to be the death knell for Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal’s hopes of qualifying for this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
The travel ban, which has been implemented in response to the worsening Covid-19 situation in India, has put doubts over whether the Indian contingent will be able to take part in the Malaysian Open, which will be held from May 25 to 30.
The tournament is the last major event in the Olympic qualification calendar which means that not being able to participate would prove to be the end of any chances that Srikanth or Saina have of making into the top 16 of the men's and women's Race to Tokyo rankings respectively. Srikanth is currently 20th on the standings while Saina is 22nd.
The Badminton World Federation, Badminton Association of Malaysia or the Badminton Association of India are yet to comment on to what extent the travel ban will affect the chances of Indians participating in the tournament.
Reigning world champion PV Sindhu, 2019 World Championships bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth and men's doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have the ranking that will earn them qualification to the Tokyo Olympics.
Indians aspiring to qualify for the Games were earlier delivered a blow when the Indian Open, which was scheduled to be held in New Delhi from May 11 to 16, was postponed because of the surge in Covid-19 cases. New dates for the tournament are yet to be announced but it will no longer be an Olympic qualifier.