Badminton: Nehwal cleared to play in Thailand after antibody test

Saina Nehwal was initially withdrawn following a positive test for Covid-19.
Saina Nehwal was initially withdrawn following a positive test for Covid-19.PHOTO: SAINA NEHWAL/INSTAGRAM

(REUTERS) - Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal has been allowed to take her place in the draw for the Thailand Open after being initially withdrawn following a positive test for Covid-19, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) said on Tuesday (Jan 12).

The Badminton Association of India (BAI) said earlier that Nehwal and men's world No. 28 HS Prannoy had tested positive and withdrawn from the Open, along with Nehwal's husband, Parupalli Kashyap, who was quarantined in his hotel room.

The Thailand Open is the first tournament of the Asian leg of the BWF World Tour this year.

"The BWF... can confirm three of the four players who tested positive for Covid-19 earlier today at the Asian Leg of the HSBC BWF World Tour have been cleared to take their place in the draw," the governing body said.

"They are confirmed as Saina Nehwal (India), HS Prannoy (India), and Jones Ralfy Jansen (Germany). The fourth player, Adham Hatem Elgamal from Egypt, has been withdrawn."

Prannoy, Jansen and Elgamal returned negative results for Covid-19 after their samples were retested, while Nehwal was found to be positive again, the BWF added.

However, former world No. 1 Nehwal, Prannoy and Jansen, who had all contracted Covid-19 late last year, were allowed back into the tournament after returning positive antibody blood tests.

A positive antibody test means a person has been infected with the Covid-19 at some point but does not mean they are currently infected.

"The committee was satisfied that they are not infected and do not pose a danger to the tournament," the BWF said, adding that Elgamal was withdrawn because he had tested positive for Covid-19 but had no antibodies for the virus.