By THE NATION
Badminton Association of Thailand president Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul
Badminton Association of Thailand president Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul said the Chinese team had to cancel their trip to Bangkok to abide by the rules of the Chinese government against the pandemic.
“Through an online conference, the Chinese Badminton Association apologised for having to withdraw from the tournaments because of Covid-19 concerns,” said Patama, also a deputy president of the Badminton World Federation.
Thailand will host back-to-back Thailand Open events (Super 1000 level) from January 12-17 and January 19-24, each with $1 million prize money, and the US$1.5-million World Tour Finals from January 27-31 on the outskirts of Bangkok.
The absence of the Chinese players will deprive the tournaments of several stars, such as 2016 Olympic men’s singles gold medallist Chen Long, World Tour Final women’s defending champion and world No 2 Chen Yufei and women’s doubles No 1 Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan.
However, their withdrawals will give an opportunity for home talent, as six more Thai players will be entered into the draw to replace the Chinese. They will join the country's other hopes, such as Ratchanok Intanon, world junior champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn and mixed doubles specialist Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai.
Due to the new wave of Covid-19 outbreak in the Kingdom since early December, the three events will be held without spectators.