Pandemic Continues to Cripple Badminton for Second Year in a Row

By: Editor
Date: 16 May, 2021
Image Courtesy: GoBadminton

At the beginning of 2021, everyone assumed that the worst of the Corona Virus pandemic was behind us and that the change of the year will bring about a change in fortunes for the sport that had been plagued by lock down for pretty much all of the year 2020. And yet five months in, there is a continued sense of confusion, uncertainty, and above all an unsettling sense of déjà vu. 


Back in January, with three tournaments in Bangkok to conclude the 2020 world tour, it had appeared things could only get better – as players and fans alike cast their vision to a packed and exciting season ahead. Sure, everyone knew there were going to be challenges aplenty to pull off every event without a glitch, but like BWF alluded, the tournaments in Bangkok presented a template for the future of badminton for the foreseeable future.


And yet since then, the game once again as been crippled by the second wave of the corona virus pandemic – more so in Asia than in Europe – and at least right now there is little clarity on how the second half of the year, including the Olympics will pan out.


For a second year in a row, Badminton seems to be the one major global sport that is taking the worst hit of the corona virus pandemic. And while finger pointing is hardly of any use, surely there ought to be some serious questions one need to ask, why, a global sport such as Badminton finds itself so crippled for the second year in a row.


Have we learnt no lessons from the last year? Have we failed to develop a sustainable model for times such as these? How, if any, tournaments of the future will be conceived and conducted?


This is not to deny the realities of our times – travel restrictions, quarantine guidelines, health & safety measures – everything is so fluid and in a constant state of flux that any long-term planning is definitely fraught with danger. However, the crippling state of inactivity over the long run is sure to hurt every stakeholder in the sport.


And we aren’t event yet talking about the elephant in the room! Olympics qualification! I am not even sure, if there is any other global sport that is yet to conclude its Olympic qualification, or rather figure out a viable and agreeable mechanism to arrive at the criteria in the post-pandemic situation. 


Despite its many flaws, the reworked plan announced in February seemed to be a fair shot for everyone concerned, but with majority of those tournaments now cancelled and hardly anytime left for any more tournaments to be conducted, and with the additional disparity between tournaments completed in Asia & Europe – formulating the final qualifications tally could well be a nightmare for the sport’s governing body.


And even if there is an agreeable qualification, surely the preparation ought to be less than adequate for most players from Asia, at least. Several countries under a hard lock down and shutting down of the elite sporting facilities, with lack of practice & match play, is sure to hurt the best of the athletes. 


However, one looks at it over the last eighteen months, Badminton has been crippled for over 2/3rds of it – if not more. Lack of clarity, thought, and direction right now are hurting at every level – from the elite to the grassroots. Indeed, many of us are focused on health and well-being right now – and that ought to take precedence no doubt. But one cannot help but wonder how & when Badminton will pull itself out of the quagmire!

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