Indian badminton star Saina Nehwal tested positive for Covid-19 at the Thailand Open on Tuesday (12), as officials rushed to contain a potential outbreak on day one of the sport’s restart tournament.
Nehwal, who was receiving medical treatment at a Bangkok hospital, was one of four players to test positive, the Badminton World Federation said.
But specimens from the three other players — India’s HS Prannoy and an unnamed Egyptian and German — later tested negative on re-examination and they will undergo fresh tests on Tuesday.
Nehwal, the former world number one and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, tweeted that she was told to go to hospital “just before” her opening match.
Nehwal’s husband, men’s singles competitor Parupalli Kashyap, has gone into hotel isolation.
“The entire Indian team has been categorised high-risk by Thai health authorities and all players and their entourage are currently self-quarantining in their rooms at the hotel,” the Indian federation said in a statement.
The federation confirmed that despite being considered “high-risk” other Indian players were still allowed to go to Muang Thong Thani’s Impact Arena for their matches on Tuesday.
In further bad news for India, Rio Olympics silver medallist PV Sindhu was a high-profile casualty on day one as she lost to Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt, 16-21, 26-24, 21-13.
The Thailand Open is badminton’s restart tournament after the sport was all but sidelined since the All England Championships in March because of the pandemic.
It is the first of three consecutive tournaments played in strict bio-secure conditions and behind closed doors in Bangkok, culminating in the World Tour Finals from January 27.
Thailand’s badminton chief last month told AFP the tournaments would be the “safest in the world”.