DUE to the travel ban imposed on several East Asian countries by the Philippines, badminton powerhouse China and Hong Kong, no thanks to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, have withdrawn from the Asia Team Championships in Manila.
The tournament not only offers Olympic ranking points, but is also a qualifier for the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup Finals.
However, China will still qualify for both tournaments as among the three highest-ranked teams in the world.
The Philippines government imposed the travel restrictions after a 44-year-old man died from the virus in Manila last week. The country has recorded three coronavirus cases so far.
China and Hong Kong’s forced withdrawal were confirmed by a Badminton Asia official yesterday.
“It is confirmed. China and Hong Kong will not be competing in the Asia Team Championships. A re-draw will be conducted at the team managers’ meeting on Monday (tomorrow),” said the official.
While the tournament will lose its shine due to China’s absence, it would be a blessing in disguise for Malaysia who will now have a better chance of qualifying for the Thomas Cup on merit.
The Uber Cup squad will also benefit from the withdrawal of both East Asian countries.
BA of Malaysia (BAM) secretary-general Datuk Kenny Goh said: “It’s a pity that China and Hong Kong won’t be competing.
“Despite China’s absence, Malaysia will still have to be focused as there are other strong teams in the competition.
“Our objective is to qualify for the Thomas Cup,” said Kenny.
The top four men and women’s teams will qualify for the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup Finals in Denmark in May.
The national players leave for Manila today.