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India Open: Srikanth, six other players withdrawn after testing positive for COVID-19

Sports Lounge Staff

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Kidambi Srikanth

New Delhi: Covid-19 hit seven Indian players, including men’s top seed K. Srikanth and doubles specialist Ashwini Ponnappa, and forced 15 withdrawals across five four events of the $400,000 India Open badminton here early on Thursday.

Mithun Manjunath is the other affected singles player while the rest – Ritika Thaker, Treesa Jolly, Simran Singhi and Khushi Gupta – play doubles. The doubles partners of these players – N. Sikki Reddy P. Gayathri Gopi Chand, Akshan Shetty and Kavya Gupta also had to withdraw.

In addition, Dhruv Kapila and Akshan Shetty – the doubles partners of Sikki and Simran – were also forced to pull out. Further, Dhruv’s men’s doubles partner M. R, Arjun and Akshan’s partner Utkarsh Arora also had to follow suit.

Since any secondary contact of an affected player could continue to play, as per the protocol, Sai Pratheek stayed in the men’s doubles draw after withdrawing from the mixed doubles with Gayathri.

Men’s second seed B. Sai Praneeth was the first to withdraw after testing positive. So far, women singles remains the only event unaffected by rising Covid cases.

Hours before the commencement of the second round on Thursday, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) issued a statement without divulging the names of those who tested positive.

“BWF can confirm that seven players have been withdrawn from the India Open 2022 after testing positive for Covid-19. The players returned a positive result to a mandatory RT-PCR test conducted on Tuesday.

Doubles partners deemed close contact of the seven players have also been withdrawn from the tournament. The players will not be replaced in the main draw and their opponents will be given a walkover to the next round,” the statement said.

In view of the rising cases of COVID-19 in New Delhi, daily RT-PCR tests are conducted at the hotel for those accessing the venue, the K. D. Jadhav Hall, where a daily Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) is also scheduled. As a result of these stringent measures, the number of withdrawals is likely to go up in the coming days.

The nationwide rise in COVID cases has also cast a shadow over the hosting of the $150,000 Syed Modi India International from January 18 to 23 in Lucknow and the low-key inaugural edition of the $75,000 Odisha Open from January 25 to 30 in Cuttack.

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