Friday, May 02, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
The IBF said on Thursday that the postponement came in the wake of concerns raised by several member associations and their reluctance and inability to send players, some of whom relied on advice received from their own Governments.
Considering that the World championship environment would produce many close-contact situations between players, officials and volunteers, the majority of the IBF Executive Board felt that postponement was the best option. Incidentally, the tournament's major sponsor QI Ltd. had also asked for a rescheduling.
The IBF General Body meeting and Council sessions, due to be held during the championship, have also been postponed.
In a statement, the IBF Executive Director, Neil Cameron, regretted the postponement of the championship, but felt it was unavoidable. "It is extremely regrettable that the World championship had to be called off at this late stage. The Executive Board clearly felt that this is the proper decision to take because they were concerned that there would still be a risk to everyone involved,'' he said in a statement.
The IBF President, Mr. Dabbaransi, plans to convene an executive board meeting at the earliest opportunity to discuss the consequence of this decision. The meeting would also decide whether the event could be still held during the Olympic qualifying period which ends on April 30, 2004.
The World championship would have been the most important tournament in the IBF calendar in terms of rankings and points for players and this would count a great deal while qualifying for the Athens Olympics in 2004.
Meanwhile, the Indian badminton camp in Bangalore would go on till May 7 as per the original schedule. Informing this, the Indian coach Vimal Kumar said, "We are disappointed that the event has been called off. BAI has told us to continue with the camp and since there is a week left, we will go ahead with our programme as it would give good practice to the players.''
Sudden and surprising
Vimal felt that the IBF decision was sudden and the news of postponement came as a surprise, though there was an outside of chance of IBF taking the extreme step in view of the SARS scare. "I thought it would go through, because there were no objections from the host, England Badminton Association, or from the British Government.
"I think the pressure has come from the Far Eastern nations like China, Indonesia and Korea which have a dominant presence in the championship. They could have allowed their players to go to Birmingham after putting them through medical tests. Anyway, since IBF has decided there is nothing that can be done now,'' said Vimal.
The Indian players in the camp also expressed disappointment that the championship has been postponed as they were looking forward to gaining valuable points from it.
The postponement of the World championship would have a cascading effect on the calendar, as it is a Seven Star tournament and has to be conducted before the Olympic qualifying cut-off. How and where the IBF fits the event now remains to be seen.
The present set of qualifiers are based on World rankings according to the February 2003 list. And postponement, even by a couple of months, would force the organisers to change the list as there would changes in rankings.
The SARS fear is likely to hit other Grand Prix events too, including the Indonesian, Malaysian and Singapore Opens all scheduled in June in the region where SARS cases are rampant. Cancellation of these would put the IBF calendar in further mess.
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