Russian shuttler Rodion Alimov became the latest victim of COVID-19 when he tested positive and was forced to withdraw from the ongoing India Open 2022 in New Delhi, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) confirmed. (More Badminton News)
Alimov’s mixed doubles partner Alina Davletova has also withdrawn from the India Open 2022 as she was a close contact. “Badminton World Federation (BWF) can confirm that one player from the current draw has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been withdrawn from the India Open 2022,” BWF said in a statement.
“The player returned a positive result to a mandatory RT-PCR test conducted on Friday. His doubles partner has been identified as close contact and has also been withdrawn from the tournament,” the statement further added.
The Russian pair got a walkover in the first round before beating the Indian pair of Ayush Makhija and Deeksha Choudhary to ease into the quarterfinals. In the round of eight, stage Alimov and Davletova got better of Malaysian Chan Peng Soon and Valeree Siow to make their place in the semifinals.
With Alimov and Davletova withdrawing from the competition, their semifinal opponents Hee Yong Kai Terry and Tan Wei Han of Singapore book their place in the summit clash.
Meanwhile, world champion Loh Kean Yew made it to the men’s singles finals without breaking a sweat after his semifinal opponent, Brian Yang, pulled out of the tournament after complaining of ‘sore throat and bit of a headache’.
“Brian Yang complained of sore throat and bit of a headache in the morning. He said he is not feeling well and hence he has withdrawn,” BAI said. “Yang though has tested negative for COVID -19. Loh Kean Yew therefore is through to the finals.”
Russian women’s doubles pairing of Ekaterina Malkova and Anastasiia Shapovalova also withdrew from the season's first event after the former developed a back pain.
Their semifinals opponents – third seeded Russians Anastasiia Akchurina and Olga Morozova thus qualified for the summit clash. Earlier, seven Indian players including star Kidambi Srikanth and Ashwini Ponappa withdrew from the India Open 2022 after testing positive for COVID-19.
Besides Srikanth and Ponnappa, other players to withdraw were Ritika Rahul Thaker, Treesa Jolly, Mithun Manjunath, Simran Aman Singh and Khushi Gupta.
Earlier, India's B Sai Praneeth, the 2019 world championship bronze medallist, double specialists Manu Attri and Dhruv Rawat had tested positive and had pulled out before the start of the tournament.
The entire England badminton contingent had also withdrawn ahead of the Super 500 event after the country’s doubles specialist Sean Vendy and coach Nathan Robertson tested positive for the virus.