Njoto hit by fresh Olympic heartache

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 May, 2008, 12:00am
 

Partner's passport woe ends second Games bid

Albertus Njoto's Olympic hopes have been shattered for the second time - despite having qualified for Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

Njoto will not be able to compete in the August Games because his doubles partner, Yohan Wiratama, does not possess a SAR passport, a spokesman for Hong Kong Olympic Committee president Timothy Fok Tsun-ting confirmed yesterday

'We feel sorry for the pair and we have done our best to help them, including writing to the IOC and the Hong Kong Immigration Department to see if there is any way out,' the spokesman said. 'But the rule is there and they cannot represent Hong Kong without a SAR passport. We had a meeting with them and they understood there was nothing more we can do about it.'

Ranked 13th in the qualification list, the pair have earned their ticket to the Beijing Games, which features the top 16 pairs. But Wiratama only fulfils the seven-year residency rule for an SAR passport early next year. Four years ago, Njoto qualified with Liu Kwok-wah in the doubles for the Athens Games, but was not allowed to go because he did not possess a SAR passport at that time.

It is believed the Hong Kong Badminton Association also put forward the case of former world number one, Zhou Mi, to represent the SAR in Beijing, but the mainlander was also rejected because of the passport issue.

Zhou came second in the qualification list for Hong Kong in the women's singles, ahead of locally born Yip Pui-yin because of a better world ranking, but the door has been shut on the Athens singles bronze medallist.

With the men's doubles pair denied, only two women and one man will represent Hong Kong at badminton in Beijing.

Wang Chen. who qualified as the highest ranked player from Hong Kong, will face a hectic schedule next month in order to gain a better draw.

The 2006 Asian Games champion has seen her world ranking slip down three places to seventh after missing the Uber Cup finals in Indonesia this month due to injuries.

'We have entered her in all three major tournaments in June so she can improve her world ranking in time for the Olympic draw,' said team coach Chan Chi-choi.

'She has to be in the top four before the draw is made in early August in order to avoid meeting the favourite Chinese shuttlers before the semi-final stage.'

Wang will take part in the Singapore and Indonesia Super Series, as well as the Thailand Open.

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