The Thomas Cup and the Uber Cup may become the first top level badminton tournaments to take place since the sport went into a freeze due to the Covid-19 pandemic post the All England Open in March.
The two competitions, set to be held from October 3-13, however, are now under a cloud of uncertainty after the Badminton World Federation (BWF) confirmed that five countries have pulled their respective teams out, South Korea and Indonesia being the latest ones as they withdrew on Saturday.
Indian singles player Subhankar Dey, who is part of the squad for the Thomas Cup, said that he hopes the tournaments can be played to ease the financial pressure on players. “I spoke to a few friends in Denmark and they said that South Korea and Indonesia have withdrawn and if China also withdraw then the tournament could be cancelled. I can only say that it would be great if the Thomas Cup and other tournaments are held,” Subhankar told.
“The players are suffering right now because unless and until we play tournaments we won’t get any money at all. Sponsorships are also not coming so we are facing a lot of problems and I hope tournaments like Thomas Cup take place even if other teams withdraw,” he said.
“I understand that they are also struggling in terms of sponsorships. Let’s hope for the best. I really want to play and all the team mates I spoke to also want to play.”
Subhankar also said that the players were desperate to get some competitive matches under their belt after the long Covid-enforced layoff. The last international tournament he played was the Barcelona Spain Masters in February where he faced compatriot Kidambi Srikanth in the first round.
“As a player I can say that we are really motivated to play tournaments. We love competition and the feeling of being together is really different. We have been working hard every day and there will be no use of that if we can’t compete,” he said.
Subhankar’s words mark a significant change in players’ stance on tournaments since March when they put the BWF under pressure to halt the badminton calendar. He says the players and other stakeholders are now better informed about the virus than they were then.
“As far as coronavirus is concerned, initially it was hurting our minds because we didn’t know how to cope with it. But then we have been training in our own capacities for the past one and a half months and now I don’t think it is really problematic for us,” he said.
“We are also seeing that other sports have started competitions like lawn tennis, football; the IPL is going to happen. Sports is slowly coming back and so we are prepared in our minds to compete now.” (Agency)