Kuala Lumpur [Malayasia], December 21 (ANI): Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Monday announced the calendar for the first half of 2021, up to the Tokyo Olympics which includes 17 tournaments that will be part of the Olympic qualification.
The new-look BWF tournament calendar 2021 sees a number of tournaments postponed from Q1 and Q2, and a handful of Grade 2 tournaments cancelled.
The 2021 season kicks-off on January 12 with the Thailand Open and wraps up with the conclusion of the Russia Open on July 25 after which the quadrennial event will take the limelight.
The BWF World Rankings will reopen following the BWF Indian Open 2020 being hosted in week 4, 2021. The calculation of the next BWF World Rankings list will be announced on February 2, 2021.
As previously announced, the Olympic Qualifying period for the Race to Tokyo will restart in 2021 and the first tournament counting for qualification will be the Swiss Open 2021 in week 9.
The qualification period will be extended until week 19 with the Indian Open 2021 being the last tournament in the qualification period. The qualification will be determined from the Race to Tokyo Rankings published on May 18, 2021. BWF Council decided that this will also be used for seedings in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
BWF is working with the Internation Olympic Committee (IOC) to update the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualification system whereby the final updated regulation will be shared mid-January following formal approval by the IOC.
BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund said: "These deadlines have been set due to the uncertain nature of COVID-19 and the extra time needed to conduct tournaments with the COVID-19 safety protocols required."
BWF also confirmed that Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2020 postponed earlier this year will now take place in Aarhus in week 41 of the season and forms part of a tournament cluster in Denmark alongside the Denmark Open 2021 in Odense during week 42.
"Regarding the BWF Sudirman Cup 2021, BWF is in close consultation with the Chinese Badminton Association and the host city of Suzhou to identify a suitable window within the BWF Tournament Calendar 2021. BWF will at the soonest possible opportunity announce further dates for the Mixed Team World Championships when we publish the tournament calendar for the rest of 2021. This will detail the schedule of tournaments following to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games," the governing body said in a statement.
BWF also announced a COVID-19 support package for tournament hosts that provides financial assistance and details cost relieving initiatives to ensure tournaments can continue to be part of the BWF World Tour and BWF Tour in 2021.
These decisions were ratified at the recent BWF Council Session, with numerous Member Association hosts consulted during the confirmation process.
Lund said: "The focus has been to establish cluster tournaments where possible similar to what is planned for the Asian Leg in January in Thailand and we expect to stage a number of tournaments this way to ensure a more feasible tournament programme in 2021.
"The Covid-19 situation continues to provide a challenging environment in which to run international tournaments, and although the hope is that the COVID-19 vaccine may in time create a world with less restrictions, BWF expects that the pandemic will still influence tournament hosting throughout the whole of 2021," he added. (ANI)