International top-level badminton has returned with the Badminton World Federation completing its 2020 season with three major events from 12 January 2021 in a “bubble” environment in Bangkok.
Two Thailand Opens (12–17 January and 19–24 January), will complete the regular 2020 BWF World Tour season before the BWF World Tour Finals take place from 27–31 January.
The Government Spokesperson said the “HSBC BWF World Tour in Bangkok” is a historic event, as it is Thailand’s first-ever to host three consecutive World Tour Finals.
As part of COVID-19 control and preventive measures, the top-40 athletes, trainers and staff who entered the country, as well as Thai organising staff and hotel staff have undergone a 14-day quarantine under Thailand’s ‘Bubble Protocols’, during which they spent time training and preparing for the competitions in designated facilities. The tournaments began 7 days after the quarantine period.
However, the Thailand Opens have been hit by the withdrawals of both the Chinese and Japanese teams, the latter after men’s world number one Momoto Kento test positive for Covid-19 in a routine pre-departure screening test at Tokyo Narita Airport.
With the withdrawal of the Japanese team, the BWF indicated it will call on reserve players who are already part of its bio-secure bubble in Thailand. The draw was conducted after China pulled out.
This will be the first international badminton at senior elite level since the Denmark Open at the start of October, in a bubble which was to have also featured the Uber and Thomas Cup Finals before those were cancelled. After these three tournaments, the 2021 season is scheduled to begin in March.
Players to watch
With the absence of Japanese and Chinese players, the Danish men such as Anders Antonsen and Viktor Axelson and Indonesia’s Anthony Sinisuka Ginting and Jonaton Christie will hope to capitalise.
Chinese Taipei have hopes in both men’s and women’s singles, with the men’s second seed Chen Tien-chou (Momota was the top seed) and women’s top seed and world number one Carolina Marin, India’s PV Sindhu and South Korean prodigy An Se-young.
Chinese Taipei have hopes in both men’s and women’s singles, with the men’s second seed Chen Tien-chou (Momota was the top seed) and women’s top seed and world number one Tai Tzu-ying. On the women’s side, watch out too for home hope Ratchanok Intanon, Olympic champion Carolina Marin, India’s PV Sindhu, and South Korean prodigy An Se-young.
In doubles, top-ranked men’s pair Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo have withdrawn after Sukamuljo failed to recover from Covid. The Indonesian first tested positive on 20th December and has tested positive two further times since. In their absence, teammates Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan should be favourites.