Besides Marin, Ratchanok Intanon, Anders Antonsen and Rasmus Gemke were the other big names who pulled out of the Olympic ranking event.
By Utathya Nag
Besides the women’s world No. 4 Carolina Marin, who was set to be the top singles seed in the tournament, other high-profile names like Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, Danish men’s singles duo of Anders Antonsen and Rasmus Gemke have also withdrawn.
With April 19 set as the withdrawal deadline, more pull-outs are expected. The draw will be announced on April 20.
While no official reasoning has been given for the withdrawals, rapidly rising COVID-19 cases in India have been a concern of late.
COVID cases in India have been over the 200,000 mark for the last three days with a host of Indian cities, including New Delhi, announcing weekend lockdown to curb the spread.
The Badminton Authority of India (BAI) has already announced that the India Open will be held behind closed doors to ensure the safety of the participants.
“The Badminton World Federation (BWF) is in close communication and consultation with the Badminton Association of India, as well as local health authorities in Delhi, as to the protocols and requirements needed for a safe staging of the India Open 2021.
“We are aware of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in India but have full confidence that the measures put in place will protect the safety of all players and participants,” Thomas Lund, BWF secretary general, told the New Indian Express.
Despite the withdrawals, the India Open 2021 entry list, as it stands now, still involves some big international names like world No. 1 men’s singles player Kento Momota of Japan, world No. 2 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark and reigning India Open champion, women’s world No. 5 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, amongst others.
The India Open 2021 is one of the last qualifying tournaments for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. It provides shuttlers the opportunity to secure points to climb the leaderboard in the ‘Race to Tokyo’ badminton rankings – a programme that will determine who qualifies for the Summer Games.