Badminton

Saina Nehwal, Prannoy test COVID-negative, cleared to play Thailand Open

Saina and Prannoy’s antibody tests came back positive but it only showed that they had contracted COVID earlier. Both will now play at the Thailand Open.

By Rahul Venkat ·

Indian badminton players Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy have been allowed to play their first-round matches at the Yonex Thailand Open on Wednesday, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) confirmed.

Both Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy’s COVID tests had returned positive on Tuesday morning and were sent into hospital quarantine. The two were asked to withdraw from the tournament as was Saina’s husband Parupalli Kashyap, who was sent to self-quarantine as the couple had shared a room.

The entire Indian contingent was also asked to self-quarantine in their respective hotel rooms in accordance with the BWF’s COVID rules.

Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy were then subjected to a second PCR test and antibody test each later in the day for further confirmation.

Though both tested positive on the antibody test, their PCR tests came back negative, which meant that they had been infected with the COVID-19 virus at some point in the past but does not mean that they are currently infected. It was enough to declare that they did not pose a threat and were declared fit to play at the Thailand Open.

HS Prannoy had contracted COVID-19 in December last year after he had attended the wedding of fellow shuttler RMV Gurusaidutt while Saina Nehwal had also reportedly tested COVID-positive then.

Olympic medallist Saina Nehwal will open her campaign against Malaysian Kisona Selvaduray while HS Prannoy will play another Malaysian in eighth-seeded Lee Zii Jia.

Parupalli Kashyap will also begin his men's singles campaign against Jason Anthony Ho-Shue on Wednesday.

The BWF’s COVID rules stipulate that no support staff will be allowed to accompany the players if anyone from the contingent tests COVID-positive.

The rule meant that PV Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth, and the doubles duo of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy, all of whom fell in the first round of the Thailand Open, did not have coaches by their side.

However, it is unconfirmed if the rule will stay in place for Wednesday’s matches.