Huge chance for Vietnamese shuttlers to win Tokyo 2020 berths

10:05 | 18/03/2020 Society

Vietnamese badminton players have a huge chance to secure two tickets to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, according to their current rankings in the Badminton World Federation (BWF)’s list of players eligible to participate in the Summer Olympics.

Vietnamese top player Nguyen Tien Minh is on his way to securing his fourth consecutive Olympic berth - Photo: BWF

The escalation of the COVID-19 outbreak globally has led the BWF to suspend all tournaments from March 16 until April 12. With this decision, the Olympic qualification period, scheduled to take place between April 29, 2019 and April 26, 2020, has ended early before April 30, which is the deadline for the BWF to publish the rankings list used to allocate spots.

Currently, the two Vietnamese top players – Nguyen Tien Minh (ranked 50th in the BWF World Rankings for men’s singles and 23rd in the list of players eligible for participating in the Olympics) and Nguyen Thuy Linh (42th in the BWF World Rankings for women’s singles and 23rd in the Olympic roster) – have almost secured their tickets to Tokyo 2020.

In the "race" for tickets to Tokyo 2020, Vietnam badminton’s hope are placed on familiar faces senior Nguyen Tien Minh and his wife Vu Thi Trang, in addition to the 1997-born Nguyen Thuy Linh. In early 2020, Minh, Trang and Linh were present at two international tournaments in Thailand and Austria in order to earn Olympic qualification ranking points. However, only Linh gained success as she finished runner-up at the Badminton Austrian Open in February, helping to improve her position on the world rankings and become the No. 1 female tennis player in Vietnam.

To be able to participate in the 2020 Summer Olympics, all three players have chosen to attend low-level tournaments like the Austrian Open to collect more points for the 2020 Olympic qualifying rankings. They have persisted in this strategy, accepting long-distance travel and more cost. For nearly one year, thanks to this determination, the trio have had a favourable position on the rankings.

General Secretary of Vietnam Badminton Federation Le Thanh Ha, said that the competition in such tournaments is not very high, however, they offer low prize cash and reward points, while players have to travel long distances, costing more money. But Minh, Trang and Linh are trying to do this in order to be able to participate in the 2020 Olympic Games. This is a positive thing for Vietnamese badminton, Ha noted.

According to the rules from the BWF, the top 38 players in the world rankings will win tickets to the men's and women's singles at Tokyo 2020. Nations can enter a maximum of two players each in the men's and women's singles, if both are ranked in the world's top 16; otherwise, one quota place until the roster of thirty-eight players has been completed.

Considering the current rankings, amongst the group of players eligible to participate in the Games are Minh and Linh both ranked 23, while Trang is ranked 25th. If the rankings are maintained in the next few weeks, Minh and Linh will win tickets to the 2020 Olympic Games, with the latter as Vietnam’s only female tennis player in attendance.

However, Ha said that Trang still has an opportunity if she gains more points and improves in the rankings through her achievements at various international competitions before the 2020 Summer Olympics. The difficulty is that some international tournaments have been postponed due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

BWF will make a further announcement on the regulations related to Olympic qualification points at a later date, it said in a recent announcement.

Theo NDO