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

The sixth staging of the Jamaica International Open Badminton Championships starts today 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 bearth 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 Jamaica Badminton Association  (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.

“We will also 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.”

The JBA president expects a lot of exciting games over the next four days.

“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.”

However, some players will actually miss out due to the coronavirus.

“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,” Antonio Bell, General secretary of the JBA,  noted.

The tournament is a level-four International Series on the Badminton World Federation (BWF) calendar.