Badminton: Singapore's Loh Kean Yew, Yeo Jia Min's slots at Tokyo 2020 confirmed

National shuttlers Loh Kean Yew (left) and Yeo Jia Min will be leaving for Japan in July.
National shuttlers Loh Kean Yew (left) and Yeo Jia Min will be leaving for Japan in July. ST PHOTOS: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - National shuttlers Loh Kean Yew and Yeo Jia Min have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics after the Badminton World Federation confirmed its qualification list on Monday (June 7).

While the qualification period closes only on June 15, the BWF had confirmed in May that there would be no further tournaments due to the coronavirus pandemic. This had led to the postponement of the May 11-16 India Open and May 25-30 Malaysia Open and the cancellation of the June 1-6 Singapore Open.

As a result, Loh and Yeo secured their Olympic spots by virtue of being 18th and 17th in the Race to Tokyo men's and women's rankings respectively, with 38 places allocated for each singles event.

Loh, 23, said: "It is an honour to be able to represent Singapore at the Olympics, and I will do my best to make the nation proud."

Both shuttlers are looking forward to making their Olympic debuts when the Tokyo Games open on July 23, and Yeo, 22, added that they have been training hard despite the Covid-induced upheaval that has limited competition opportunities.

It is understood that the duo will leave for Japan in July.

The men's singles event will be headlined by home favourite Kento Momota, while China's Chen Yu Fei and Taiwanese Tai Tzu-ying are leading contenders for the women's singles gold. Defending women's singles champion - Spaniard Carolina Marin - has withdrawn with a knee injury.

In a Facebook post, the Singapore Badminton Association said: "We are 100 per cent sure Kean Yew and Jia Min would do their best and do all of us proud."

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong also congratulated the pair on Facebook.

He wrote: "Really happy for these two, as they will now take their places among the world's best shuttlers. I met them a few months ago on court, as they were training hard, and looking so well - I am sure this news would have brought an even bigger smile to their faces!"

The confirmation of the shuttlers' participation means Team Singapore currently have 18 athletes across nine sports who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

The others are diver Jonathan Chan, fencers Amita Berthier and Kiria Tikanah Abdul Rahman, gymnast Tan Sze En, rower Joan Poh, sailors Ryan Lo, Kimberly Lim and Cecilia Low, shooter Adele Tan, swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen, table tennis players Feng Tianwei, Yu Mengyu, Lin Ye and Clarence Chew, and windsurfer Amanda Ng.