Badminton: New Zealand pull out of Thomas Cup due to Covid, replaced by United States

Badminton New Zealand said several players had tested positive during the Oceania Championships in Melbourne. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

(REUTERS) - New Zealand have pulled out of this week's Thomas Cup after their team for the men's badminton championship was "severely depleted" by positive Covid-19 tests, prompting the sport's global governing body to replace them with the United States.

Badminton New Zealand said on Wednesday (May 4) several players had tested positive during the April 28-May 1 Oceania Championships in Melbourne and in the subsequent days following the event.

"This has resulted in a severely depleted team, with the possibility of additional positive cases detected upon arrival in Thailand," it said in a statement.

"The difficult decision to withdraw the team was made, considering all factors and putting player welfare at the forefront of our thinking.

"We are focused on supporting the remaining New Zealand players in Australia and getting them home safely, as soon as possible."

The event starts in Thailand on Sunday.

The global governing body Badminton World Federation (BWF) said no other Oceania member association was able to take the continental quota place, while the countries next in line in the rankings also declined.

"Team USA confirmed their participation and will take their place in Group D alongside Japan, Malaysia and England," the BWF said in a statement.

The United States finished runners-up to traditional powerhouses Malaysia in the 1952 edition of the event.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.