Indian Sports Ministry understands that the Indian badminton players will go through the COVID-19 vaccination drive in March. This is a step taken by the government to vaccinate the Indian hopefuls for the Tokyo Olympics later this year. 

The Olympic qualification for Badminton will start with the commencement of the Swiss Open in March and will extend up to the Indian Open in May. Therefore the timely vaccination will mean that the Indian shuttlers can play without any fear of coming in contact with the virus and missing matches. 

The whole meeting regarding the vaccination was decided in an elite meeting in the presence of the Sports Ministry, Badminton Association of India (BAI) and also top Indian shuttlers in PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, B Sai Praneeth and Chirag Shetty. Sports secretary Ravi Mittal chaired the meeting and Ajay Singhania who is the BAI secretary was also present along with Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) CEO Rajesh Rajagopalan.

Indian Doubles specialist Chirag Shetty was very assured with the news as he felt that he would take the vaccine considering the problems that the Indian players had to go through in Thailand. 

“I will definitely take (the vaccine), even if it is 90 per cent efficient. It will be a big relief, especially seeing the situation the Indian team faced in Thailand. Indian players had to withdraw and our participation was in doubt,” Chirag Shetty told the Hindustan Times.

The Indian shuttlers had a horrid time in Thailand mainly due to the pandemic during the two Thailand Opens and also at BWF World Tour Finals which was held in Bangkok. Ahead of the first Thailand Open Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy were tested positive and there was panic at the Indian camp. Both of them then came out as fake positives results but matches were rescheduled and the Indian support staff were not allowed to go courtside on the first day. 

The problems did not end there as before the second Thailand Open B Sai Praneeth got tested positive which unfortunately forced Kidambi Srikanth’s withdrawal from the event as he was sharing a room with Praneeth. However later according to the Indian camp that was also a false alarm but it was little too late to make amends for the shuttlers. 

“If we are vaccinated, we won’t face such situations. We don’t want to be going through all this when the focus is Olympics qualifiers,” Chirag added.

The players have also requested single occupancy in the upcoming tournaments to avoid such circumstances and keeping in mind the situation their request was accepted.