Indian badminton player Sai Praneeth COVID-19 positive at Thailand Open


Sai Praneeth
Image Credit: Twitter/@ESPNIndia

Bangkok: India’s world number 13 badminton player Sai Praneeth has tested positive for coronavirus, the sport’s governing body said Tuesday.

Thailand is hosting three consecutive badminton tournaments in Bangkok culminating in the World Tour Finals from January 27.

The players have been facing off in a so-called bio-secure bubble without spectators, although the first tournament last was overshadowed by three positive coronavirus cases.

Badminton World Federation said Sai has been forced to withdraw from this week’s tournament, after his nasal swab taken Monday came back positive.

“The player has been taken to hospital for further observation and testing, and is required to stay in hospital for a minimum of 10 days,” the federation said.

Sai will miss his first round match on Wednesday against Daren Liew from Malaysia and his hotel quarantine roommate Kidambi Srikanth has also been forced to withdraw from the tournament and is in self-isolation.

Kidambi tested negative on Monday and has returned negative results since arriving in Thailand.

The former world number one played on Tuesday, polishing off Thailand’s 25th ranked Sitthikom Thammasin 21-11, 21-11.

The withdrawal will come as another blow after 14th ranked Kidambi, was forced to pull out of last week’s tournament with a calf muscle strain.

“Thai health authorities have cleared India players to continue competing in the tournament upon producing a negative test result each day,” the federation said.

Earlier on Tuesday, India’s PV Sindhu cruised into the second round of the women’s section of theThailand Open to erase the memory of her surprise first-round exit to Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt a week earlier

The Rio Olympics silver medallist pummelled Thailand’s world number 12 Busanan Ongbamrungphan 21-17, 21-13 in just 42 minutes.

“This win was very important for me in this tournament because at last week’s tournament, I went out in the first round,” said sixth seed Sindhu.

“So this win today was important, because even though in the first game it was tight, I didn’t want to make it easy.”

Former world number one Saina Nehwal suffered a first-round loss to Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon after fizzling out in the second set.

The 21-17, 21-8 result is a blow to the Indian player, who is yet to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

“I’ve played Newhal before and lost a few times and so I’ve learnt from those experiences. Newhal is one of the players I try to copy, she’s fast,” Intanon said.

Top seed Tai Tzu-ying from Taiwan bounced back from her defeat in the final to Spain’s Carolina Marin in the first tournament on Sunday, to beat Thailand’s Supanida Katethong 21-16, 21-11.

In the men’s singles, Malaysian 10th seed Lee Zii Jia faced an unexpected defeat against India’s Sameer Verma in a marathon 74-minute thriller.

Verma, ranked 31st in the world, hung on to win 18-21, 27-25, 21-19.

“I think from the start I made a lot of mistakes, but luckily I overcame that to claim the first game. It was a tough game for me and the second game was a long one,” Lee said.



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