Chaos. Confusion. And Lack of Clarity on Corona Virus Tests – Day 1 of Thailand Open

By: Editor
Date: 12 Jan, 2021
Image Courtesy: GoBadminton

That Corona Virus has upended our lives, and sport is no exception is now a well-known fact, but what transpired on day one of the Yonex Thailand Open is just about the worst-case scenario with the Indian team in Bangkok. It was a day of chaos, confusion, and complete lack of clarity as things went completely haywire after Saina Nehwal and HS Pranoy were reportedly tested positive for corona virus, and these tests were negated by the end of the day and both were cleared to play their matches on day 2.

The BWF clarified that three players - Saina Nehwal, HS Pranoy, Jones Jansen of Germany had tested positive for a PCR test but a second PCR and antibody test has cleared the trio of any infection.

“Nehwal, Prannoy and Jansen tested positive on the PCR test, but their antibody IgG was positive. A positive antibody test means a person has been infected with the COVID-19 virus at some point in the past. It does not mean they are currently infected. 

“The trio all contracted COVID-19 in late 2020. The committee was satisfied that they are not infected and do not pose a danger to the tournament,” ruled the Diagnosis and Investigation Committee of the Thailand Ministry of Public Health – a working group of six doctors that has been formed just for this tournament.

Just as the players were warming up and ready to head over to the Stadium for their opening round encounters, the former Olympic Bronze Medallist was asked to head to the hospital and stay in isolation. However, there was no written copy of the test report that was provided.

“didn’t receive the covid test report from yesterday it’s very confusing and today just before the warmup for the match they tell me to go to hospital in Bangkok,” said Saina in one of her tweets. 

Saina, alongside HS Pranoy, and Parupalli Kashyap all withdrew from the tournament. Kashyap was placed in isolation at the hotel, and all three waited for further information from the authorities. The entire Indian team was categorized as high-risk and all players were subjected to additional testing and coaching staff disallowed to accompany the players for matches.

Kidambi Srikanth suffered a horrific nosebleed while undergoing testing, underlining the chaos prevailing at the test site. Without access to physios, and doctors, Srikanth had to take to Social Media to call attention to the state of affairs in the Thai capital.

And then finally towards the end of the day it was reported that the Indian duo had tested negative the second time around and had been cleared to play tomorrow. In all of this confusion and chaos, the Indian team’s chances suffered on court, only Satwik Sairaj & Ashwini Ponnappa managed to win their opening round encounter, while PV Sindhu, Sai Praneeth, Sikki/Ashwini suffered reverses in their respective opening round match-ups. 

It is impossible to discount the fact that the external events and uncertainty, not to mention the lack of any coaching inputs played their part in the losses. The Thai authorities and the BWF will have a lot to answer for how things went out of control on day one of the tournament. Sure, these are unprecedented times but with so much at stake a little more clarity and organizational impetus is expected.

Olympic qualifications are hanging in the balance, and the mental fatigue by enduring such a horrid day cannot be discounted. Saina had previously tested positive and lost precious time leading up to the tournament. And having stayed the entire day in insolation can only have accentuated her lack of preparation.

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