Jamaica International Badminton Championships to go ahead amid COVID-19 fears

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March 9, 2020

The sixth staging of the Jamaica International Open Badminton Championships, the flagship tournament of the Jamaica Badminton Association (JBA), will take place from tomorrow through to Sunday amid the global fear associated with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that continues to take lives across the world.

Over 70 players will once again vie for valuable points in their quest for a birth at the Tokyo Olympics this year, with purse money up for grabs to the tune of US$10,000.

Measures are being put in place by the JBA and the Ministry of Health and Wellness to ensure that everyone associated with the tournament is safe.

President of the JBA, Nichole Case outlined some of the measures that will be enforced at the tournament to ensure player safety.

“One of the measures that we will be implementing at the tournament is the avoiding of handshaking. One of the normal protocols at the end of a match is that players would shake hands [with each other], and they would shake the hand of the umpire.

“We have agreed with the referee that we will forego and use other non-contact methods of acknowledging the players.”

The cleaning of hands is one of the recommended ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and the JBA will also be addressing that as much as possible.

“We will make sure that we have enough hand-sanitising solutions available so that we can maintain as much cleanliness because there is still contact with the shuttle, so we want to just keep the hands clean.”

Tremendous effort has been put into the staging of the tournament and Case indicated why her association continues to strive to host the event.

“It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of volunteerism, but the Jamaica Badminton Association is committed to continuously brining a world-class international tournament to Jamaica.

“We believe that Jamaica is an ideal location to become a sports destination, and the badminton association will do our part to ensure that continues to happen.”

The JBA president expects a lot of exciting games over the four days due to the quality of the participants.

“This is an Olympic qualification event. Many of our players are here from Europe and from the Pan American region who are really trying to get those last-minute points to qualify for the Olympics, so we really expect to see quite a lot of exciting matches from a number of our visitors, as well as our locals.”

The tournament is a level-four International Series on the Badminton World Federation (BWF) calendar and action promises to be fierce and fast in the men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles.

The tournament is sanctioned by the BWF and the Pan Am Badminton Confederation.

One of the main sponsors of the event is the Jamaica Olympic Association, and the CEO and Secretary General Ryan Foster explained why there continues to be support for the event.

“This year we are supporting the tournament to the tune of $1.5 million. That is an investment in the future of the sport of badminton, which is also a member of the Jamaica Olympic Association — and one of the associations that we are looking for, in this Olympics, to be part of the 10 sporting disciplines in Tokyo 2020.

“We believe that badminton is on the up and the association has been doing well to keep tournaments such as these.”

Nestle, through their brand Milo, returns as a sponsor of the event and will be contributing $750,000 in cash, as well as added support for the event.

General secretary of the JBA, Antonio Bell revealed that some players will actually miss out due to the coronavirus.

“The preparations for the Jamaica Invitational have been going well but made a little bit more difficult with the coronavirus being spread across countries.

“A couple of the countries that would have participated here found themselves on the banned list, hence the non-participation of those countries in the tournament. Nevertheless, we were able to garner the kind of support for the tournament that we desired,” he said.

— Dwayne Richards