With the global economy suffering due to the lockdown enforced by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s having a domino effect in different spheres of life including sports. Leading India shuttler HS Prannoy reckons should the situation not improve dramatically in the coming month or so, badminton will suffer as a result. Also Read - Coronavirus in Telangana Crosses 39,000-mark With 1,597 New Cases, 11 Fresh Deaths
The 2018 CWG gold medalist says the sponsors bring money and with them taking the financial hit , it will negatively impact the sport and hence the players. Also Read - Global COVID-19 Cases Top 13.2 Million : Johns Hopkins
“It is not a great time for any of the companies, they are not earning now with this lockdown and everything depends on sponsors, so yeah, it will have an impact on the sport,” Prannoy told PTI. Also Read - Bengaluru Lockdown News: Karnataka Issues Guidelines For E-commerce, Food Delivery Services | Check Details
“…the sponsors, they must have invested in other sports as well. So I think things are very bleak for badminton and sports overall. We have less revenue coming in from a couple of places and if that also stops after a while, it will be a big problem for players. So, I hope it gets normal in one and a half month’s time,” he added.
Global stars of the likes of Serena Williams, Michael Phelps, Australia cricket coach Justin Langer among others have expressed fears regarding the impact of the current scenario on the mental health of athletes.
Prannoy echoes their views.
“There might be so many who would be anxious to go out there and play, probably 80 per cent of them, and it is not only about sportspersons, each and every individual might have mental issues…but we don’t have a choice right now,” Prannoy said.
He believes players, even though they are indoors, should try and find time to maintain their fitness, both physical and mental, seeking positivity in everyday life.
“We have to take it a positively. We should find fun in whatever we are doing right now in everyday life, things which we have not been able to do all these years in our professional careers. Better to enjoy this time and keep up the fitness, work out, it will take away all the fatigue, both mental and physical. Just keep working,” he said.
Prannoy himself has been battling poor form and injuries and the forced break has given him the chance to improve on both the fronts. He has been taking fitness lessons via video conference with his trainer Dinaz.
“This break is good for someone like me, who is not in a good shape or has been struggling. Everyone will be back to zero and have to think and restart so in a way it is a relief. This way you can catch up with others. Because when injury happens, it becomes difficult to catch up, you are always under pressure to cope up, so after 15-21 days of break, everyone will be same.
“It will give you freedom to try so many things, I think after this break, it will be easier to understand what you need to do to get better results,” he said.
The World no. 28 also criticised the Badminton World Federation (BWF) for their late reaction towards suspension of the international events and freezing of rankings. Several international shuttlers have also been critical of the decision to continue with the All England Championships last month despite the coronavirus outbreak.
“I think the BWF should be quick in reacting to these things. Until and unless players are taking to social media, they are not doing anything. They didn’t take any decision on ranking till players spoke about it. All England also, they were not serious,” the 27-year-old said.
He also wants BWF to spend more on improving the quality of match officials and introducing video line calls for each court. “They have to prioritise players first. Badminton doesn’t have big money, and BWF is only putting players under pressure, there are many rules which are not helping players in any way,” Prannoy said.
He continued, “There are small things which make a big impact in sports like umpiring. In bigger tournaments like All England Championships at least, get the best umpires, they are not able to pay good money to umpires and referees. Also BWF needs to make video line calls mandatory for each court and not just centre court. All England is the biggest event in the world and still they haven’t been able to do that, so these things don’t make sense.”