Following the statement issued by the BWF this morning, Badminton England wishes to reinforce our sadness and disappointment regarding the difficult decision that was taken on Wednesday 17 March when we were required to withdraw the Indonesia team and a player from Turkey from the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships 2021.
When team members receive a notification from NHS Test and Trace, it creates a legal obligation for those people to self-isolate, in line with UK government requirements. Once we were made aware of these notifications, as the tournament organiser, we had no option but to act to ensure that the team members, contacted by NHS Test and Trace, understood what was required of them, to facilitate compliance with the requirements of the UK Government and to support the team through isolation.
Adrian Christy, Badminton England, Chief Executive, said: “I am devastated for the players and officials who are withdrawn from the YONEX All England Open 2021 and for the millions of fans who will be equally devastated. It is not what we expected, and it has clearly shaken the global badminton community.
“We know what the All England title means to players and what these Championships mean to the most passionate of fans, and I understand the disappointment, frustration and anger that many will be feeling right now.
“But the world remains gripped by a global pandemic and our primary responsibility must be to follow the health protocols put in place by the UK government because we have a duty of care to all players, coaches, officials and staff and must manage any risk of further transmission of the virus.
“One of my annual highlights is welcoming the Indonesian team and their incredible fans to Birmingham every year; such is the respect Badminton England has for them has made this situation especially difficult.
“This is not a sport decision, it is a response to the pandemic by Government, medical professionals and scientists and, in the months ahead, we all hope we can begin to emerge from the nightmare of Covid-19 and come back together again next year”.
A government spokesperson said: “All travellers to England are subject to infection protection controls to protect the health of fellow travellers, and the wider community in England. For the YONEX All England Championships we have worked with Badminton England and others to ensure this event can proceed in a competitive environment which is safe for all competitors and associated staff.
“An issue arose over the weekend which required individuals to self isolate whilst some tests were repeated. These repeated tests were all negative and on the advice of health protection advisers it was possible for these individuals to return to sporting action.
“Unfortunately an additional issue has arisen involving persons travelling on the same plane as someone who has tested positive for COVID. We are working with all parties involved to make sure that the necessary protocols are followed. This is to protect the health of all those participating in this event. In this case that does mean isolation for the athletes involved.
“We understand the frustration and concerns of those affected by the need for stringent adherence to health protection controls. We assure all concerned that the health of those involved is paramount and that the decisions taken have been informed by expert advice.”
Throughout the planning of the YONEX All England Open 2021, Badminton England has worked extremely closely with Government, Public Health authorities, the BWF and a range of partners to ensure all protocols have been followed that would allow the staging of this prestigious tournament. We will continue to do so over the coming days where the priority will remain on ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all involved.