Badminton’s Asia Leg: Saina out after testing COVID positive, Prannoy’s sample gives conflicting results

Bangkok: Chaos gripped India’s campaign at the Thailand Open with star shuttler Saina Nehwal forced out following a positive COVID-19 test, while HS Prannoy‘s participation hung in balance after his sample came out negative after a positive result in a bizarre turn of events.

Former Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap too was forced to withdraw “due to close proximity” with wife and fellow shuttler Saina.

“After testing positive, both the players have been taken to the hospital to be isolated for a minimum period 10 days. While, Parupalli Kashyap has also withdrawn from the tournament and is quarantined in his hotel room due to close proximity with Nehwal,” the Badminton Association of India said in a statement which had claimed that even Prannoy was out of contention.

However, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) said he will be retested after conflicting reports came out of earlier samples.

“…upon retesting the same specimens, one player from India, and both players from Germany and Egypt were found to be negative. These three players will be retested today.”

Saina and Prannoy had recovered from COVID-19 last month and along with the Indian team were looking to participate in the Asia leg events comprising the Thailand Open (January 12-17), TOYOTA Thailand Open (January 19-24) and the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2020 (January 27-31).

Saina, a London Olympics bronze-medallist, said she is yet to receive the results of her COVID test.

“I still didn’t receive the covid test report from yesterday it’s very confusing and today just before the warm up for the match they tell me to got to hospital in bangkok … saying that I m positive ..according to rules the report should come in 5 hours.. @bwfmedia,” Saina tweeted.

Saina was scheduled to play Kisona Salvaduray of Malaysia, while Kashyap was supposed to face Canada’s Jason Anthony Ho-Shue in the first round on Tuesday.

However, Prannoy is scheduled to play his first match on Wednesday, taking on Malaysia’s eighth seed Lee Zii Jia.

“Why no chance of rescheduling the match if false positive?” asked Kashyap in his tweet.

BWF said Saina and Kashyap will be subjected to another round of tests later in the day.

“One Indian player remains positive and is in isolation for a minimum of 10 days at the hospital. That person will be tested again today also. The match involving this player was declared a walkover,” it said.

“Today’s match featuring the roommate of this player has also been declared a walkover. That player is in self-quarantine and also subject to another test today.”

While Saina and Kashyap, who are roommates, will miss the tournament and Prannoy’s participation also remains in doubt, the rest of the Indian team players have been allowed to take part in the event.

“… all other players have been allowed to participate but they have to play without the presence of coaches and support staff as per the safety protocols,” BAI general secretary Ajay Singhania said.

The BWF, however, said “the entire Indian team has been categorised high risk by Thai health authorities and all players and team entourage are currently self-quarantining in their rooms at the hotel and will be subject to a PCR test today.”

“Each individual is subject to daily testing until further notice from the Department of Disease Control, but players can continue to play upon producing a negative result,” it added.

Saina, Prannoy, Kashyap alongwith RMV Gurusaidutt and Pranaav Chopra had tested positive last month and had served the mandatory quarantine period.

They had also cleared the pre-departure COVID-19 test and also tested negative on arrival in Bangkok.

The Indian contingent includes the likes of Olympic silver-medallist PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, Sourabh Verma, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty and Ashwini Ponappa.

On the court, India made a winning start with mixed doubles pair of Satwik and Ashwini claiming a 21-11, 27-29, 21-16 win over the Indonesian pair of Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Widjaja.

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