Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championship, scheduled to be held in Wuhan in China next week, was on Wednesday cancelled due to travel restrictions and strict quarantine protocols imposed by many countries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Badminton Asia (BA), the continental governing body of the sport, said the timing of the event, which is not a part of the qualifications for the Tokyo Olympics, was also a reason for the cancellation.
"In this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many Asian governments are still imposing strict travel restrictions and quarantine requirements to those entering the respective countries," BA said in a statement.
"Players who participated in the Asian leg (1 and 2) and the World Tour Finals held from the 12th to 31st January in Bangkok, Thailand will have to conduct a 2-week mandatory quarantine after returning from these events.
"Unfortunately, this means that the players are unable to participate in events in close proximity to these dates, as the hosting Member Associations (MAs) are still imposing strict quarantine requirements."
The mixed team championship was "intended to be the Continental Qualification for the Sudirman Cup Finals 2021."
However, BA said the game's governing body (BWF) has "concluded that if any Continental Championships qualification tournaments do not take place in 2021, the Continental Confederation will then be represented by team(s) up to the originally allocated quota, via the world rankings."
BA also said that "BWF has upgraded the Badminton Asia Championships for individual events to a World Tour Super 1000 level, where it now becomes the highest-ranking Continental Championships from 2022 onwards."
The 2020 international calendar concluded with the three tournaments in the Asia leg which was conducted in Bangkok in successive weeks.
The 2021 season will start with the Swiss Open Super 300 (March 2 to 7), which will be the first tournament in the Tokyo Olympic qualifying period.
Ajay Singh re-elected Boxing Federation of India President
Incumbent Ajay Singh was on Wednesday re-elected President of the Boxing Federation of India, comfortably defeating challenger Ashish Shelar in the polls which had an International Boxing Association (AIBA) observer in attendance.
Singh, also the chairman of Spicejet airlines, prevailed 37-27 in the elections held at a Gurugram hotel for a fresh four-year term. He will have a new secretary general by his side in Assam's Hemanta Kumar Kalita.
Kalita would be succeeding Maharashtra's Jay Kowli, who had decided against contesting for the post after extending his support to Shelar ahead of the elections.
"I don't want to comment on the margin, I am happy that the BFI has reposed faith in me. I hope to live up to the expectations and take boxing forward," Singh said in a press conference after being elected.
"It is great credit to all of us that this election was conducted so peacefully and professionally. We are one family, we will work towards glory of our sport. Let there be no heartburn, it is everyone's right to fight the election," he added, acknowledging his rival.
Shelar is a BJP MLA from Maharashtra and was a former President of the Mumbai Cricket Association.
Singh said his priority would be to focus on development of women's boxing and ensure presence of more women in the support staff as well.
"We will try to ensure greater participation of women in both administration and support staff," said Singh, who will have Goa's Danushka D'Gama as a joint secretary in his team.
An AIBA observer -- Yury Zaytsev -- was also present to oversee the proceedings along with observers from the sports ministry and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
"This is an important year because Olympics are coming up in July. We have a record nine boxers who have already qualified. We expect some more to make it in the world qualifiers in June," Singh said.
The elections were originally scheduled for September last year but were postponed twice citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
The matter reached the Delhi High Court last month thanks to a petition filed by the Uttar Pradesh state boxing association.
The BFI eventually set February 3 for the elections and its sixth Annual General Meeting.
Singh was first elected to office in 2016 in an election that also had an AIBA observer in attendance.
"We need to make sure that we win more Olympic medals to encourage kids to take up the sport. We need to create an ecosystem. Boxing is an aspirational sport and people from villages and smaller towns are hungry to succeed.
"We want to give them enough opportunities," Singh said, talking about his plans going forward.
Divij Sharan advances, Bopanna out from Murray River Open
India's Divij Sharan and his partner Igor Zelenay came from behind to beat their opponents but compatriot Rohan Bopanna, who is short of practice, exited the Murray River Open along with his partner.
Sharan and his Slovakian partner erased a first-set deficit to beat Argentina's Guillermo Duran and Spanish Albert Ramos-Vinola 4-6, 6-3, 10-8 to move to the men's doubles pre-quarterfinals of the US$320,775 hard court event.
They will next take on French fifth seeds Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin, who got a first round bye.
On the other hand, Bopanna who came out of his hard quarantine only on January 30th, and Denmark's Frederik Nilsen lost 4-6 3-6 to Australian wild card pair of James Duckworth and Marc Polmans.
Sumit Nagal had lost his men's singles opening round on Monday, so Sharan is the only surviving Indian in the ATP 250 event.
This is one of the events, held in the same week at the same venue, in run up to the Australian Open, starting Monday.