Dubai: The Badminton World Federation (BWF) will go ahead with the Total Thomas and Uber Cup Finals 2020 despite five countries pulling out of the competition till date.
The 31st edition of Thomas Cup and the 28th edition of Uber Cup - the biennial international badminton championship contested by the men and women’s national teams will be held in Aarhus, Denmark from October 3-11.
The matches will be played at the Ceres Arena in Aarhus, with this being the first time that Denmark hosts the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup tournament. This is also the first time that this event is being held in Europe since 1982 when England played hosts.
Traditional powerhouse China will defend the men’s title while Japan will be the defending champions in the women’s competition.
Earlier this week, the BWF announced an adjusted tournament calendar for the HSBC BWF World Tour for 2020 while confirming that the Thomas and Uber Cup will go ahead as planned in Aarhus. The world governing body, however, has laid down strict safety protocols for players and team entourage outlining a safe return of the sport on the international stage.
A strict compliance of the Safety Protocols and Operating Procedures have not gone too well with all member nations with Indonesia, Chinese Taipei, South Korea, Thailand and Australia pulling out of the competitions starting later this week.
International badminton will then proceed as usual with some of the top names confirmed for the Danisa Denmark Open 2020 later in October. Kento Momota, Anders Antonsen, Carolina Marin and Akane Yamaguchi are among the names of top players confirmed for the Danisa Denmark Open that gets under way from October 13.
Hosted in Odense, the Denmark Open is a HSBC BWF World Tour Super 750 event offering prize money of $750,000 (Dhs 2.75 million).
And although a few top teams have withdrawn while avoiding travel due to the ongoing pandemic situation, the tournament promises not to lack any shortage of star power. Adding to the excitement of fans will be the possibility of upsets given that players haven’t had any taste of international competition for several months now.
Leading the pack in men’s singles will be defending champion Kento Momota, who began the year brilliantly with victory at the Perodua Malaysia Masters, only to be hospitalised after a serious accident on his way to the airport in Kuala Lumpur. Momota has reportedly recovered well, but having missed the Daihatsu Indonesia Masters and the Yonex All England, the world champion will be hoping that he hasn’t lost his edge in the intervening period.
Among those who will look to the Denmark Open to script a turnaround will be Kidambi Srikanth, winner in 2017, but who has over the last two years displayed a patchy form. Also in the reckoning are his compatriots Parupalli Kashyap, Lakshya Sen, Subhankar Dey and Ajay Jayaram, all of whom can cause ripples in the draw.
In the women’s singles, Yamaguchi – winner in 2016 and runner-up the following year – will look to head off the challenge from her compatriots Nozomi Okuhara, Spain’s Carolina Marin, Canada’s Michelle Li and USA’s Beiwen Zhang.
Marin had a strong start to the season, making at least the semi-finals of all five of her events and the Spaniard will be motivated by the fact that she has yet to win the Denmark Open, one of the few major titles that has eluded her.
While the spotlight will be on Yamaguchi, Okuhara and Marin, any upset early on could throw the draw wide open, and players like Saina Nehwal, Mia Blichfeldt, Michelle Li and Beiwen Zhang will sense their chance.
Men’s Singles Seeds: 1. Kento Momota; 2. Chou Tien Chen; 3. Anders Antonsen; 4. Ng Ka Long Angus; 5. Kanta Tsuneyama; 6. Kidambi Srikanth; 7. Kantaphon Wangcharoen; 8. Kenta Nishimoto.
Women’s Singles Seeds: 1. Akane Yamaguchi; 2. Nozomi Okuhara; 3. Carolina Marin; 4. Michelle Li; 5. Sayaka Takahashi; 6. Beiwen Zhang; 7. Mia Blichfeldt; 8. Aya Ohori.