The top tiers of the badminton world have been shaken up once again, as the current World No.1 Men's doubles team of Kevin Sanjaya and Marcus Gideon have pulled out from a series of matches slated to begin in Thailand from January 2021. The Badminton World Federation has been one of the last major sporting organizations to restart their tours and tournaments after the COVID-forced break early in March last year. Having just begun to emerge from the upheaval of the pandemic, the loss of Kevin Sanjaya and Marcus Gideon will be huge for the organizers.
BREAKING: Kevin Sanjaya has tested positive for Covid19. Gideon/Sukamuljo have withdrawn from Thailand Open Super 1000 and BWF World Tour Finals.— Badminton Talk (@BadmintonTalk) January 4, 2021
The Badminton Association of Indonesia announced on Monday, January 4, that World No.1 Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo had tested positive for COVID-19 and thus would not be participating in the three series being held in Thailand this January. "Based on the last test that Kevin ran on December 31, 2020, the PCR swab test result was positive," confirmed Dr. Octaviani, a doctor at the PBSI National Training Center. The last BWF tournament, the Danisa Denmark Open, was held from 13-18 October 2020 but did not see widespread participation from Asian teams.
Of the three tournaments that Sanjaya and his doubles partner Marcus Fernaldi Gideon participated in last year, the duo won the Indonesia Masters, were the runner-ups at the All-England Open and reached the quarter-finals of the Malaysian Open. They would have been keen to start off the New Year with some much-needed game time, but will instead be in quarantine due to Sanjaya's positive COVID test. The rest of the Indonesian team, however, has tested negative and are on their way to Bangkok via a chartered flight.
This year, the BWF has announced that they will be starting out the year - and the Olympic pre-season - with the Yonex Thailand Open from January 12-17 which will be a BWF World Tour Super 1000 tournament. This will be followed by the Toyota Thailand Open from January 19-24 (also a BWF World Tour Super 1000 tournament) and finally the prestigious HSBC BWF World Tour Finals which will now be held from January 27-31. The last BWF event still held under non-COVID rules was the All England Open in 2020.
This is not the first hit to the sport, with the entire Japanese Badminton Team pulling out of the three events after the Men's World No.1 Kento Momota tested positive for the virus after a practice session with his teammates. This was also preceded by the Chinese delegation withdrawing from the events due to an increase in COVID cases in Thailand.