Badminton Asia defends Thomas and Uber Cup pull-outs

Kuala Lumpur (AFP) –


Asia's badminton chief has denied that teams in the region were to blame for the postponement of the Thomas and Uber Cup, which followed a series of pull-outs over coronavirus fears.

Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea and Australia all withdrew before the men's and women's world team championships, which were set to kick off badminton's restart next month, were shelved.

The Badminton World Federation said it was unable to deliver a high enough level of competition following the withdrawals. Many of the world's top players are from Asia.

A Danish sports editorial attacked the pull-outs as selfish. But Badminton Asia chief operating officer Saw Chit Boon said the Asian teams weren't trying to "make life difficult", reports said.

"I think it is the right and prerogative of every participating country to decide if they want to travel to play or not," he told media at an event in Kuala Lumpur, according to The Star on Thursday.

"There are lots of things to be taken into consideration because each country imposes different SOP (standard operating procedures), rules and conditions for their citizens travelling abroad."

"So I do not think this is about the Asian countries pulling out just to make life difficult for everybody," added Saw.

"These claims emerged because Denmark happened to be the hosts. Will the same be said if an Asian country hosted the event?"

International badminton has been on hold since March over the pandemic. Next month's Denmark Open is the only top-level event confirmed on this year's rejigged calendar.

The Thomas and Uber Cup has now been postponed three times, and will not take place before next year.

Denmark's world number three Anders Antonsen warned that the sport will "wither away and die" if tournaments don't return soon.

"Are we sitting around waiting for a vaccine to come before badminton can start up again?" he wrote on Instagram.

"Make the best and safest set-up you possibly can and run the tournaments. Whoever attends, attends. Otherwise the sport will wither away and die."