Coach's Perspective: Badminton's Successful Comeback despite the Pandemic
DANISA Denmark Open 2020 is the first major tournament to be held during the Covid-19 pandemic. We talked with badminton coaches to know what they think about this awaited event.
The Denmark Open 2020 just ended. This event is the first tournament held by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) in 2020 after the All England tournament last March.
The long absence of badminton championships was due to the new coronavirus pandemic or Covid -19. As a result of the pandemic, many scheduled badminton events and tournaments had to be cancelled. Big events like the Thomas and Uber Cup have failed to be held this year. The two were pushed back to 2021.
However, after almost seven months, BWF agreed that a major championship would still be held, namely the DANISA Denmark Open. The championship, which provides a prize of USD 750,000, was held in the same city as the 2020 Thomas-Uber Cup, at Odense in the Odense Sports Park.
Unfortunately, many of the world's top badminton players decided not to take part in the tournament. In fact, almost all the top 5 athletes did not take part, namely Kento Momota (men's singles, Japan), Tai Tzu Ying (women's singles, Taiwan), Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya (men's doubles, Indonesia), Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan (women's doubles, China) and Zheng Si Wei/Huan Ya Qiong (mixed doubles, China).
As a result, "new" names emerged that had never been champions before. In the men's singles, Danish player Anders Antonsen climbed onto the honorable podium after beating compatriot Ramus Gemke by three games 18-21, 21-19, 21-12. This title also ended the drought for the crowning of a Danish men’s singles champion after the last singles Danish player to win was Jan Østergaard Jørgensen in 2010.
Singapore’s coach Mulyo Handoyo considered the competition at the Denmark Open 2020 to be different from the previous event. The absence of the world's top badminton players made a huge difference.
"Yes, in the absence of Asian badminton players, Denmark can make history with an all Danish Final. Especially (in the absence of) Kento Momota from Japan who is on fire,” said Luluk Hadiyanto, a former world number one men's doubles who is now a badminton commentator on several television stations in Indonesia. Chou Tien Chen from Chinese Taipei, he said, also did not appear stable as his steps had been tackled by Anders Antonsen in the semifinals. The world’s #2 is one of only a handful of Asian athletes that took part in the tournament.
“I think the weight of the event is out of the question given that the Danisa Denmark Open is a Super 750 event. However, the prestige and the quality of the championship doesn’t really feel like a Super 750 event,” Hadiyanto added.
Besides Chinese Taipei, the other Asian countries that came were India and Japan. "The only Indian badminton player that I went with is (Kidambi) Srikanth," added Coach Agus Dwi Santoso, India National Coach. Along with Srikanth, other Indian men's singles players that performed at the Denmark Open 2020 were Lakshya Sen, Ajay Jayaram, and Subhankar Dey. However, of all of them, Srikanth made it the farthest. He was only defeated by Tien Chen in the quarter-finals.
Coach Santoso himself rejected the idea that the competitiveness in the Denmark Open 2020 dropped. He believed that the level of competition was still tight. He praised the successful implementation of the event. "Everything goes through strict health protocols and the committee also works hard to make the tournament a success," said Santoso.
Regardless of having a little less kick due to the pandemic, Denmark Open 2020 remains a symbol of badminton’s comeback during this challenging time.