India's former world No.1 Saina Nehwal, lashed out at the All England Championships, saying the officials had put profits ahead of player welfare by allowing the tournament to go ahead last weekend despite the coronavirus pandemic. The competition was one of the few international sporting events to conclude on Sunday amid the deadly outbreak, which has claimed thousands of lives across the globe.
"Only thing I can think of is that rather than the players welfare and feelings, financial reasons were given more importance," Nehwal, who won bronze at the 2012 London Olympics, tweeted. "Otherwise there was no other reason for the “All England Open 2020 to go on last week."
Saina bowed out of the event in the first round and is racing against time to qualify for the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is yet to announce any extension in qualifying schedule for the Olympics, where the top 16 play.
As with all sporting events, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) has suspended all tournaments until April 12 due to the virus, badly affecting Olympic qualifying which closes on April 30.
Several players took part in the All England Open - an Olympic qualification event - and Parupalli Kashyap, Saina’s husband, said the players were “under pressure” to play. Denmark's Viktor Axelsen clinched his first All England title, while Tai Tzu-Ying of Taiwan regained the women's singles crown.