Badminton: Thailand pledges 'world's safest' event as China withdraws

Top health measures will be applied to the upcoming three badminton world tour events staged in Bangkok as Thailand's badminton chief pledged on Wednesday after heavyweights China withdrew due to coronavirus concerns. 

"This bubble competition will be the safest in the world," said Patama Leeswadtrakul, president of Badminton Association of Thailand. 

"After January 4, no one is allowed to enter this bubble and all the measures and protocol are very strict for the health and safety of everyone."

The three back-to-back tournaments start from January 12 with the YONEX Thailand Open, then Toyota Thailand Open and culminate in the season-ending 2020 World Tour Finals from January 27.

All will be held behind closed doors and in the bio-secure "bubble" conditions to reduce the risks imposed by the COVID-19 to the minimum. 

The Chinese badminton team will sit out these three events though out of concerns due to the coronavirus, blowing a big hole in the events' draw.

Thailand has seen a low toll from the virus but new outbreaks in recent weeks have prompted the government to put certain areas under partial restrictions after months of relative normalcy.

(With input from AFP)

(Cover: China's shuttler Gao Fangjie in action at the Toyota Thailand Open 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand, July 11, 2018. /CFP)

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