Oly qualification system is unfair: Gopichand

Oly qualification system is unfair: Gopichand

Pullela Gopichand

Chief Indian national coach Pullela Gopichand believes that the Olympic qualification system in badminton is "unfair" and putting a "lot of strain" on the players.

The Olympic qualification period for the Tokyo Games starts April 29 this year with the Badminton World Federation (BWF) considering the ranking list, to be published on April 30, 2020 to allocate spots and Gopichand feels BWF needs to have a relook at the qualification system.

"I understand it is very important that players earn good amount of money and the prize money goes up but it is also unfair that the Olympic qualification should last a year long. It is something which needs to be looked at," Gopichand told PTI in an exclusive interview.

"I think if you win an All England or a World Championship or Asian or European Championship, there is a moment where you could think of direct qualification for these five six slots atleast, something like an Olympic quota, rather than spreading it over a year's time.

"It just makes a mad rush, travelling across the world. It is a lot of strain and it is making things difficult for players," he said.

The BWF revamped its structure in 2018, making it compulsory for the world's top-15 players in the singles events and top-10 pairs in the doubles disciplines to play a minimum of 12 out of 15 World Tour tournaments or face a penalty.

The first three months of the new BWF season has already seen injuries to top players such as three-time world champion Carolina Marin, former world no.1 Korean Son Wan Ho and China's fast-rising Gao Fangjie.

Gopichand blamed the new BWF calendar for causing burn out and injuries to players.

"I think the number of tournaments is definitely affecting the players, somewhere we are compromising the quality of badminton," he said.

"I definitely think as a sport we are a highly competitive sport and adding on tournaments in a calendar only makes it tougher for the players. If you look at the last five weeks, it has been crazy.

"We started with German, All England, Swiss and then Asian championship, then India, Malaysia, Singapore, back-to-back week after week to endure so many numbers of tournaments involves too much planning, too much of resources," Gopichand added.

He said BWF should ensure the quality of badminton goes up.

"I am sure the BWF can do better to ensure that the players are lasting longer and the quality of badminton is going higher. But the way things are right now, it is just causing too much burnout and injuries."

Talking about India's preparation for the Tokyo Olympics, Gopichand said the players should look to seal their spots early next year to get enough time to prepare for the quadrennial event.

"It is going to be a tough year again. The Olympic qualification has its own challenges. I think it is important to be physically fit and mentally charged up to produce results," he said.