No one predicted the year that is 2020. For badminton fans, the ill-fated year started with the car accident of world No. 1 Kento Momota where the driver of the vehicle passed away due to injuries sustained.
Then came Covid-19, and changed the whole world. All sports were put on hold. Every major tournament was either cancelled or postponed. The Olympics was also postponed until next year.
We at 360Badminton have chosen some of the highlights of the badminton world in 2020.
Kento Momota’s car accident
After winning the 2020 Malaysia Masters on 12 January, Momota had a car accident on his way to the airport in the early hours of 13 January. He later required surgery in his right eye socket. Currently, he has recovered and said physically at his best again. He said the accident made him doubt the continuation of his career.
Viktor Axelsen’s first All England title
Denmark’s top player Viktor Axelsen made history for himself by winning the 2020 All England title. He is the first European men’s singles player to lift the coveted trophy in 21 years. The last European winner of the All England men’s singles discipline was Peter Gade in 1999.
BWF freezes the world rankings
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) froze the world rankings on 17 March after the decision was made to postpone/cancel BWF tournaments due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases globally.
According to the latest BWF updates, the next world rankings will be published on 2 February 2021.
The Thomas and Uber Cups postponements
The team championships were postponed several times before finally settling for 3-11 October. But after countries like Chinese Taipei, Australia, Korea and Indonesia said no to travel to Denmark (host), the decision was finally made to postpone the tournament to next year.
The 2020 Thomas and Uber Cups are now scheduled for 9-17 October 2021.
The players who retired during the pandemic lockdown
Many top players decided to retire during the lockdown for various reasons. The biggest name to call quits was two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan. Lin Dan cited his age as the main reason for the decision in retirement. “At 37 years old, my physical fitness and injuries no longer allow me to fight side by side with my teammates.”
Recommendation: Lin Dan might soon become an amateur golf player
Other big players who will not be returning to court when badminton resumes are Mathias Boe, Tontowi Ahmad, Mads Conrad-Petersen, Chau Hoi Wah, Jan O Jorgensen, Carsten Mogensen and Ayaka Takahashi.
Recommendation: Top players who retired during the Covid-19 pandemic
Viktor Axelsen and Lee Zii Jia social media blunder
Viktor Axelsen and Lee Zii Jia were in hot water after one of their private conversations was taken out of context and they got some negative reactions for it. It happened when Lee told the media that Axelsen had warned him about travelling to Denmark for tournaments and said it was “dangerous.”
The whole issue became so big that the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) issued an official statement saying that the incident should be a lesson for both the players and that they should be mature in the future.
Tournaments after lockdown
The 2020 DANISA Denmark Open was the first tournament held with the implementation of Covid-19 protocols.
The tournament was a success and it paved the way for building trust in BWF and the safety protocols set by the BWF for future tournaments.
The next tournament held was the SaarLorLux Open in Germany. There were a few ups and downs in this tournament. First Covid-19 scare was when the coach and father of defending champion Lakhsya Sen tested positive for the virus. After the diagnosis, Sen and two other Indians, Ajay Jayaram and Subhankar Dey were asked to forfeit the tournament as they were in close contact with the positive case.
The players who tested positive for Covid-19
The first case of Covid-19 positive case was reported in India with doubles player Sikki Reddy. But the situation did not worsen for her or the national team as she tested negative in a second confirmatory test.
The next positive case was Indian men’s doubles player Satwiksairaj Rankireddy. He went into self-isolation after his diagnosis and since then he has recovered and resumed his training.
Indians Parupalli Kashyap, H.S. Prannoy, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and R. M. V. Gurusaidutt all tested positive and reportedly contracted the virus after attending a wedding.
Apart from the Indian players, Anders Antonsen also tested positive for Covid-19 after participating in a team match in Aarhus, Denmark.
An unnamed British player also tested positive for the virus during a European Mixed Team Championships match in London.