KUALA LUMPUR • Badminton's showpiece Thomas and Uber Cups were postponed yesterday after a string of countries withdrew over coronavirus fears, officials said, in a major blow to the sport's restart.
The men's and women's world team championships were set to take place in Denmark next month, and would have been the first international competition since the pandemic halted the sport in March.
But the Badminton World Federation (BWF) said it had taken the "tough decision" as the pullouts meant there would not be a high enough level of competition.
No new dates were announced for the two tournaments, which have been postponed three times, but the BWF confirmed these would not take place before next year.
"These are exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in and while a return to international badminton remains a priority for the BWF, the health and safety of the entire badminton community is of utmost importance," said the BWF in a statement.
A further delay to the tournaments, which had been scheduled to take place in Aarhus from Oct 3-11, had looked inevitable in recent days after some of Asia's top teams - Indonesia, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and South Korea - as well as Australia decided to withdraw from the event.
Leading Indian player Saina Nehwal, who had been due to play in the Uber Cup, questioned if pushing ahead was a good idea, while the Olympic Council of Malaysia also called for a postponement.
The delay is a major setback to efforts to resume international competition, as the team events were the biggest left on the calendar this year after the 2020 Olympics were postponed.
It also means that players face a packed calendar next year, potentially with four major tournaments, including the Tokyo Games, the world championships and the world mixed team Sudirman Cup.
Former world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, who retired last year after a cancer battle, said the number was "way too many".
"I can foresee many countries complaining to the BWF about the hectic schedule," the Malaysian told The Star.
"If I'm still playing, I would want to play well in all four events, but there's no way you'll be able to prepare and peak in all."
Two other tournaments had been due to take place in Denmark next month.
The Denmark Open will proceed in Odense from Oct 13-18 as planned, but the Denmark Masters (Oct 20-25) in the same city will be axed, the BWF added.