Robin Tabeling: hosting tournaments during COVID19-pandemic unfair and dangerous?
Dear BWF / BE / players. There are some things on my mind that I think are worth a discussion. Unfortunately COVID-19 is still all over the world and cases are rising every day. Cities and even countries are going back in lockdown and it seems still far from over yet.
This has been the longest period many people haven't played any official match. No tournaments over the last 5,5 months. Don't get me wrong, I am a badminton lover and can't wait to get out there and play tournaments again. But there are things going on right now we just can't ignore and I think the athletes point of view must be heard.
In 2,5 weeks from now the first International tournament will be held again, the Latvia International. Badminton Europe posted on their website that the tournament will be the first world ranking tournament again after the All England. The Athletes commission asked the BWF for some clarification regarding this matter and they stated that the COVID-19 situation is uncertain and the influence of tournaments on the ranking still have to be finalized. However they feel it is important that ranking points will be awarded, because it's an important factor for players to compete.
The Latvia organization urged players to book their hotels and flights, but to don't make any prepayments. Every week new tournaments are cancelled, but some remain on the calendar to be cancelled last minute. How should we as players prepare for this physically, but also financially?
I strongly support tournaments to host their events, this will be good for badminton and everybody who can go out there and play our beautiful sport again. There is nothing else I would rather do. However, every player should be possible to make his own risk assessment whether he / she feels comfortable with traveling to the particular country and if he / she feels safe under the current circumstances due to COVID-19. When world ranking points will be rewarded to a tournament, some of the players will be pushed to travel by sponsors / federations or qualification / ranking matters. This means that health and safety will be put on the second place, something we shouldn't allow.
When world ranking points are rewarded to tournaments like Latvia, the underline of fair competition / fair chances will disappear. As I am writing this, many countries are still in lockdown. Some are not allowed to travel to a country where a tournament may be hosted, or have to go in quarantine when they will return. How can world ranking points be awarded if not everybody can participate? If in some countries cases are rising every day? How will we be able to create an equal qualification or ranking points opportunities if not everybody can play every tournament due to restrictions from their governing bodies. That is, in my opinion, the best example of an unequal playing field and unequal opportunities. No matter how hard we will try, I think until we are back to some kind of normalcy there will always be someone who is disadvantaged.
Therefore I strongly suggest that we should do everything we can to host tournaments again, to get out there and be able to play our sport again on the every level. However, until everybody is able to compete again, there can't be any world ranking points awarded. I sincerely hope that BE, BWF, member associations, but mostly all of you as players are feeling the same way and we can agree on this matter and come to a solution.
Hope to see everyone of you out there on the tour again, as soon as possible, when the world allows it!
Stay safe and healthy everyone
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