While the 2021 All England Championship has seen some great badminton, it came against a backdrop of great controversy that has partially overshadowed the success of the tournament winners.
Almost a week after the conclusion of the tournament, the Indonesians are still targeting BWF. He publicly denounced them as a terrible union and causing havoc across all of their social media accounts.
While they have the right to protest, I do not condone some of the responses that BWF, other players and BWF partners have received. In particular, aggressive messages towards the Danish players and a terrorist comment directed directly to the BWF. Many of those who received such messages were not part of the decision. This misguided aggression does more harm than good to Indonesia’s stellar standing in the badminton world.
A direct letter of apology from Paul-Erik Heuer-Larsen appears to have done little to restore public relations with the Indonesians. Let’s take a look at what really happened to the context and what lessons can be learned from the 2021 All England Championship.
What I don’t think happened
Several Indonesians commented that their team was disqualified from the tournament because the organizers did not want them to win. In fact, Indonesian Badminton Association President Agung Firman Sampoorna said, “One of the ways to prevent Indonesia from winning is to prevent it from competing.”
I think this is not the case at all. Rather this is the result of people perhaps thinking by their emotions rather than by logic. No one, least of all the organizers, wants to dilute more than the prestigious badminton tournament in the absence of important badminton country, players and spectators.
What we know
In the UK, when you arrive from a foreign country, you need to self-isolate for 10 days. However, the elite athletes are exempt From this, provided you “proceed directly to the impact of the listed elite sporting event in which you are participating, and remain either self-isolated or within the event location (or locations if the event has multiple venues) until you leave the UK.” Essentially, a confusing way of saying, the exception applies as long You stayed with your team at the event/accommodation venue.
All athletes participating in the 2021 All England Championships have also undergone covid preplight and post-flight tests. They are also routine tests for the duration of the tournament. It is important to note here that the Indonesian team received both vaccines prior to their flight.
disciplesThe Parents, as well as Jonathan Christie, won their first-round match. Then the NHS testing and tracking system contacted the Indonesian team (funny though it wasn’t Neslihan Yigit from Turkey at the time) to inform them that a passenger on his flight to the UK had tested positive for Covid. As a result, both countries had to withdraw from the tournament. You can see Marcos Fernaldi Gideon’s response below.
This came against the backdrop of postponing the start of the All England Championship 2021. A number of positive and inconclusive results from the tests conducted on the participants. Denmark assistant coach Thomas Stavanger, along with three members of the Indian team and one support staff initially tested positive. to me Sports Malaysia was also on the same flight with India.
Therefore, according to the “rules”, India and Malaysia had to self-isolate for 10 days in addition to Denmark. This would actually pull them out of the competition. However, after retesting, no positive cases were found in the Danish team or the Indians. So permission was given to continue their championship.
Meanwhile, although all Indonesians tested negative, they still dropped out of the competition because they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive. According to the rules, a re-examination was refused.
Indonesians and Turkish point of view
So the only difference between the two cases is that there was a positive result outside their team structure. Because Indians, Thais, and Danes subsequently tested negative, there were no effects on ‘close contact’.
- It would be understandable that Indonesians and Turks lacked confidence in the test because many returned inconclusively, but later turned negative.
- Even if the person on board was legitimately positive, none of the Indonesian team had tested positive and they were all vaccinated, so there was an additional low risk of the event.
- There appears to be a double standard for how Indonesians should be treated against India, Denmark, Malaysia and Thailand while not allowing re-tests for the Indonesian team.
The frustration here is clearly how other countries that later tested negative were allowed to continue the championship. to me Badminton England “This is not a mathematical decision, it is a response to the pandemic by government, medical professionals and scientists. “
But in the same statement made by Adrian Christie regarding some inconclusive tests, he stated “An issue arose over the weekend that required individuals to self-isolate while repeating some tests. All of these repeated tests were negative and on the advice of health protection advisors, it was possible for these individuals to return to athletic activity.”
So it begs the question, given the negative coronavirus tests, other countries have been allowed to continue their heroism. So why don’t health protection advisors make the same decision for Indonesia and Turkey?
BWF and Badminton England Point Of View
Any elite competition is subject to government rules and regulations and this is something that is beyond the control of the tournament organizers.
So the tournament organizers were complying with their legal obligations. This was in order to maintain the health and safety of all event participants. However BWF made it clear That badminton in England made “enthusiastic attempts” to allow the Indonesians to compete. However, the rules seemed strict.
I can’t help but feel that badminton was a bigger spectator sport in the UK (like soccer), they might have come up with a way to allow the affected team to continue if there were negative tests as in this case.
How did the BWF deal with this issue
On Thursday March 18FIFA issued a statement confirming the withdrawal of Indonesians and Turks from the players. They test positive for COVID-19 during their flight. Thus began the Indonesian backlash. The BWF stayed pretty calm after that. But on March 21, they issued a direct apology to the Indonesian government and the broader badminton community.
While the apology was a step in the right direction, it didn’t seem to address the core of the problem. The issue is why Indonesia quit while other countries can continue their heroism. The only difference was the fact that a stranger on a plane tested positive instead of someone on the national team, making them ineligible for retesting.
If the BWF had addressed this in their letter and indicated that the NHS and Public Health England guidelines were in fact the reason there was a legal obligation to withdraw Indonesian and Turkish players, this may have relieved some of the pressure. However, the actual reason for the withdrawal was not found in their letter at all. Furthermore, the reason why other countries continue to play has been omitted. In my opinion, this lack of clarity only made matters worse.
Questions the BWF may need to ask themselves
How can covid be avoided?
Simply, that cannot be the case now. One of the problems with badminton at this particular time is that all tournaments are international. This means that players inevitably have to cross the border and risk infection. They will always be at risk of exposure to the virus.
They can only manage the tournament arrangements to be as safe from Covid as possible. The onus is on them not only to abide by government rules but to go above and beyond to ensure the health and safety of all participating participants and to run the tournaments.
Was it right to punish the resumption of tournaments?
I’m sure there has to be some level of risk assessment when deciding to replay a badminton tour. However, the complexity is that each host country will have its own laws governing the pandemic. While it is quite clear that some governments do not allow sporting events at all, others have strict rules that must be followed.
The safest option for the BWF was simply to wait. Players, coaches and fans will understand the importance of being patient during these times. Especially since different countries suffer to varying degrees. Each country has its own rules and regulations. The BWF should not only be aware of these rules when organizing tournaments but also on individual countries as part of their due diligence.
If all teams understand the rules through their own research and the BWF reports each country’s regulatory bodies efficiently, it is up to each country whether they want to risk sending representatives to specific tournaments. BWF needs to focus on running the tournament properly and according to the rules. Should any issues arise, all teams must be thoroughly briefed prior to the event.
Was adequate scenario analysis conducted?
The last thing the BWF needs is a repeat of what happened across England. It may be quite clear from the rules set by governments what to do in common situations. But there will be cases that are not fully covered. We also noticed in the All England Championship with the Turkish and Indonesian players. The whole pandemic situation is new to all of us, and therefore not all possibilities can be covered by broad bases. It will take time for the sport in general to adapt, at least until we are done with all of this.
The BWF should endeavor to clarify this and other potential situations they identify. If it comes to having inflexible rules, they should consider analyzing the risks of imposing penalties for that tournament in the first place. If there are guidelines, not rules, then the BWF should seek to understand how far this guidance can bend to accommodate such situations. They will also need to consider, in the absence of clarity, how they can take an additional step to ensure the smooth running of the tournament in a safe manner for all participants if they are to proceed with it. This is more risky for the BWF but if they can do it successfully, it will pay off for future tournaments during this time.
The next big tournament is in May 2021 in India, where virus cases are again on the rise at the time of writing. The BWF now needs to be vigilant and learn lessons from the 2021 All England Championship. If they push ahead with the championship without applying those lessons, they risk another backlash.
I understand that the BWF and All England 2021 Championships must comply with the UK government’s rules. However, I think that withdrawing from the Indonesian team was unfair given the negative tests and the fact that they received two doses of the vaccine. Some flexibility is needed here, particularly with not allowing re-tests. It seems very likely that there are no additional risks to the tournament.
Do you think the Indonesians were treated unfairly in the All England Championship 2021? Let me know in the comments below.
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