Badminton World Tour finals moved from China to Thailand because of Covid

Anders Antonsen of Denmark hits a return against Kenta Nishimoto of Japan during their men’s singles semi-final match on day five of the Japan Open badminton tournament in Osaka on September 3, 2022. (Photo by Yuichi YAMAZAKI / AFP)

BEIJINGChina (AFP) – China will no longer host the season-ending Badminton World Tour Finals in December because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the sport’s governing body said on Tuesday.

The Badminton World Federation had planned to host the flagship $1.5 million event in Guangzhou between December 14 and 18, but the event will now take place in Bangkok, Thailand, the previous week.

China has cancelled almost all international sports competitions since Covid emerged there in 2019, with the Beijing Winter Olympics in February this year a rare exception.

The BWF said it decided to relocate the tournament following consultation with the Chinese Badminton Association (CBA) “due to the various challenges brought about by the current pandemic situation”.

The World Tour Finals — now to take place in the Thai capital’s Nimibutr Arena from 7 to 11 December — will include the top eight players and pairs in each category for their share of what the BWF called “the biggest prize pool ever seen in badminton”.

The southern city of Guangzhou held the Finals in 2018 and 2019.