Olympic qualifiers: Shuttlers to travel via Doha due to travel ban

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File photo of Indian Badminton players Srikanth Kidambi and Saina Nehwal.

New Delhi: Top shuttlers, including Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth, are likely to leave for Malaysia and Singapore via Doha to participate in the last two Olympic qualifiers next month due to travel bans imposed by the two countries in the wake of unprecedented spike in Covid-19 cases in India, the BAI said on Thursday.

Former world number one Saina and Srikanth are racing against time to qualify for the Tokyo Games, especially after the India Open Super 500 (May 11-16) tournament was postponed due to the unprecedented second wave of the pandemic currently sweeping the national capital and the country.

Just two more Olympic qualifiers are remaining — Malaysia Open (May 25-30) and Singapore Open (June 1-6) — before the June 15 deadline and things look grim for Saina and Srikanth with Malaysia and Singapore deciding to temporarily impose travel bans from COVID-ravaged India.
However, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) said it is trying to work out a solution as direct travel to Malaysia and Singapore will not be possible.

“With the current travel restrictions, Indian players will not be able to take direct flights. We have checked for via routes and the alternatives are either from Sri Lanka or from Doha and Indian shuttlers are most likely to travel via Qatar,” the BAI said in a statement.


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