Kuala Lumpur, May 27 : The Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Wednesday announced the updated qualifying regulations for the Olympic and the Paralympic Games to be held in Tokyo next year. The original Olympic qualification period ended on April 28 but the BWF was unable to host the last 6 weeks of the period due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, with the postponement of Tokyo Games due to the global health crisis, BWF has decided to extend the Olympic qualification period to next year. "An extended Olympic qualification period will be introduced from Week 1-17 in 2021 and includes the select number of tournaments that were postponed, cancelled or suspended due to COVID-19," the BWF said in a statement.
"These eligible tournaments within the new qualifying period must be completed by Week 17 in 2021", it added. The BWF also said that the postponed Olympic qualifiers are likely to be held in the same week next year as originally planned in 2020. "Such eligible tournaments within this new qualifying period should preferably take place in the same corresponding week from 2020 to 2021. If this is not possible, the BWF will allow sanctioning another date within Week 1-17 in 2021 subject to approval," it said.
The BWF also mentioned that the ranking points gathered by players in the completed tournaments during the qualification phase which was between April 29, 2019, to April 26, 2020, will be maintained. "All ranking points earned at tournaments completed during the original Olympic qualification period will be maintained under the Race to Tokyo ranking list," the world body said. The BWF had earlier frozen the world rankings, making the standings on March 17 the basis for entry and seedings when it restarted the international calendar.
"It has been a thorough process with the close and valuable consultation of the Athletes' Commission to consider how best to make adjustments to the Olympic and Paralympic qualification system. We feel this is a fair solution for all athletes and it will be our first and main priority to conduct these tournaments as part of badminton and Para badminton's adjusted return in the wake of COVID-19,'' BWF secretary general Thomas Lund said.
"Although we aim to resume international tournaments towards the end of 2020, we have chosen to resume the Olympic and Paralympic qualification process only in 2021 to ensure that travel restrictions and other related impacts of COVID-19 are limited," he added. Both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have approved the amendments. The governing body also decided to maintain the ranking points earned during the original Paralympic qualification period and conduct Spanish Para-Badminton International, the only paralympic qualifier to be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, within a period from January 1 to March 28 next year.
"Only one tournament within the original Paralympic qualification period was cancelled due to COVID-19 – the Spanish Para-Badminton International 2020. It has now been included in the adjusted qualification system within a period from 1 January to 28 March 2021," it said. The BWF said it "is still working on the exact model for the unfreezing of all world rankings in a staggered way to avoid any extreme drop off of points that would affect the ranking structure." (UNI)