Badminton: Loh Kean Yew focused on Olympic qualification despite latest postponement

Loh Kean Yew is taking nothing for granted.
Loh Kean Yew is taking nothing for granted.PHOTO: BADMINTONPHOTO.COM

SINGAPORE-The Singapore Open has been delayed by two months but the Republic's top shuttler Loh Kean Yew remains focused on only one thing - qualifying for his maiden Olympics in July.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) announced on Friday (Feb 19) that the Singapore Open will now be held from June 1-6 instead of April after a number of World Tour events were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rankings at the end of April should have been the cut-off to decide which players will be at the Tokyo Games, which are due to begin on July 23. However, the BWF's Race to Tokyo standings will now close on June 15, with the Singapore Open serving as the last tournament for qualification.

The top 38 singles players in the men and women's Race to Tokyo rankings will qualify and Singaporeans Loh and Yeo Jia Min are on course to earn their tickets as they are 16th and 17th respectively.

Despite his comfortable position, world No. 39 Loh, who won a silver medal at the 2019 SEA Games,  is taking nothing for granted.

He said:  “I am excited to hear that Singapore Open is going to happen. Personally, I don’t know if I can qualify, but I  am training like I qualified for it already.  It’s definitely better to be over prepared than under prepared. 

“Ultimately, the Olympics are still my main focus. But I will discuss (the plan forward) with my coaches and work with them as best as I can.”

Two other events in the region were also delayed. The March 31-April 4 Malaysia Open will now be held from May 25-30, while April's Malaysia Masters has been postponed until further notice.

The BWF said that the Badminton Association of Malaysia and Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) made the respective decisions in postponing the tournaments in consultation and collaboration with the BWF.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the SBA said that it hopes to see "a good field of competitors participating" in the Singapore Open.

It added: "In addition to being an Olympic qualification event, a safe and well-planned Singapore Open will give the athletes the confidence and assurance to want to come to Singapore. Likewise, we will factor in the safety environment and arrangement in deciding whether our athletes proceed to compete overseas."

The Race to Tokyo is set to resume at next month's Swiss Open.