Govt says Indian shuttlers have nothing to fear at Malaysia Open

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu guarantees the safety and wellbeing of Indian badminton players at upcoming Malaysia Open

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu is confident the Malaysia Open badminton tournament later this month will proceed without any problems.

There are fears of protests against the presence of Indian shuttlers following the controversial comments by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal – two senior officials of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – against Prophet Muhammad.

Malaysia, UAE, Oman, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia are united in condemning the remarks.

“We have expressed our displeasure at the derogatory remarks. The Indian High Commission also stated that the remarks did not represent the stand of the Indian government,” said Ahmad Faizal after the ground breaking ceremony of Sepang International Circuit’s Driving Excellence Centre.

“While I strongly condemn the statements by the two politicians, we should not penalise the Indian players, as the comments were personal statements.”

BJP has since suspended Sharma, and expelled Jindal from the party, but that did not stop a group of Malaysian hackers, known as Dragonforce Malaysia, from launching cyberattacks against nearly 70 government websites and private portals in India.

Asked about the cyberattacks, Ahmad Faizal said he had read about them but reiterated his belief that the Indian players would not face any safety issues during the tournament.

“The players are not at fault. It was two politicians who uttered the derogatory remarks. They are the ones who must be punished, not the shuttlers,” said Ahmad Faizal.

“Nonetheless, we (the ministry) will hold discussions with BAM (Badminton Association of Malaysia). We have time, as the tournament is two weeks away,” he said.

“We are also in touch with the Foreign Affairs Ministry as it is keeping close tabs on the situation in India.”

The Malaysia Open is from June 28-July 3.

The Indian players are the rising stars of the badminton world. The men’s team created history a month ago when it captured the Thomas Cup by beating 14-time champion Indonesia 3-0 in the final.

Its female players are among the best, with world No. 7 P.V. Sindhu winning the world title in 2019. She was twice runner-up (2017 and 2018) and twice semifinalist (2013 and 2014).

She also won silver and bronze at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.