From guidelines to funding, will BWF help host nations?

A series of badminton events have been rescheduled, including the Malaysia Open which will now be held in November.

Yet, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) is unsure if the tournament will eventually be held.

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the sporting calendar worldwide. In Malaysia, the Movement Control Order imposed on March 18 prohibits sporting events,.

The Malaysian government introduced the Conditional Movement Control Order on May 4 and relaxed rules to allow national athletes heading for the Tokyo Olympics to start training. However, it remains unclear if competitions will be held in the country anytime soon.

The number of Covid-19 cases have been fluctuating in recent days but the health authorities insist their targeted approach has been successful and that the “public need not worry about the daily new Covid-19 positive cases following the government’s aggressive and proactive case tracing and detection.”

BAM general secretary Datuk Kenny Goh said there were many factors to consider which will ultimately hinge on the government’s directive by then.

“Right now our borders remain closed to foreigners and even if the government relaxes the border rules by then but insists on the 14-day quarantine for those entering the country, it will defeat the purpose and the players won’t come,” said Goh.

According to the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) calendar, there are three competitions that will be held back to back in the region starting with the Indonesia Open (Nov 17-22), Malaysia Open (Nov 24-29) and Thailand Open (Dec 1-6).

“We also have to take note of the directives from the other participating nations on whether their governments will allow their citizens to travel or not.”

BAM said even if the Malaysia Open is held, they need to be guided by a thorough standard operating procedure (SOP) and this is where the national body is hoping for some form of clarity from BWF.

“If we can sell tickets, I’m sure it can’t be sold at full capacity. There must be some form of social distancing at the stands. That will result in reduced ticket sales.

“There’s also crowd control. We will need to monitor the temperature and take down the details of every person who walks in and out of the venue. The athletes and officials will also need to be monitored at their respective hotels. We need to prepare gloves, face masks and hand santisers, among others.

“Inevitably, the organising cost will rise. What is BWF’s role in helping us?”

Goh said BWF has yet to update their “basic SOP” which was introduced earlier this year – before the number of cases spiked in March and April. To date, over six million Covid-19 cases have been recorded worldwide, resulting in 366,000 deaths.

“Unfortunately, BWF does not have any clear guidelines. They came up with something very basic but that cannot be used now and they have to improve it.”

He also highlighted the need for BWF to offer some sort of “stimulus package” to host nations due to the potential additional cost.

“Coincidentally, I wrote to BWF recently about this. BWF needs to offer some financial help to host countries. There will be extra costs involved. We are partners … BWF needs us as much as we need them.

“BWF said they are considering (financial support) but that’s not a firm answer.”

Goh acknowledged that BWF offered some financial support to those who applied for assistance earlier this year but there had not been any updates about future events.

He said that instead of inviting host nations or badminton associations to apply for funding, BWF should be proactive and offer financial help.

“This is not a problem which is isolated to Malaysia. It’s a global problem. Other member associations are also facing the problem. This can be easily resolved with a video conference with the member associations, or at least with the host nations.

“In fact, I requested a video conference call. BWF replied in many words but did not give a concrete answer,” Goh added.