Hong Kong turned down the offer to play in the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Denmark citing the risk of Covid-19 infection, which is still high in Europe. Badminton’s biggest team event is expected to take place in Aarhus from October 3-11, and will also mark the return of the BWF World Tour since it ceased in March due to the pandemic outbreak, with the Badminton World Federation promising to create a safe environment for players and officials. Hong Kong did not qualify for the Finals after missing the pre-event – the Asia Badminton Team Championships in February – due to quarantine measures enforced by organisers Philippines. Badminton head coach at the Hong Kong Sports Institute Tim He Yiming confirmed they had received an invitation from the world governing body for the event after Australia and Taiwan both withdrew. Another qualifier, Thailand, also announced this week they would not join the biennial tournament which features 16 top teams in each event. Hong Kong Badminton Open canned in world tour revamp due to Covid-19 “The health of players is of the greatest importance,” said the coach. “After some serious discussion between the Sports Institute and the Hong Kong Badminton Association, we decided not to take part in the tournament. “This would have been a good opportunity for us to make amends after being turned down for the qualifying event but as we have mentioned on different occasions, safety is always our biggest concern. We can’t send our players to an event without considering the risk of Covid-19, especially in Europe where the infection rate is still high. “If a player is infected in Europe, it will be very difficult to get him back to Hong Kong for treatment. The stakes are too high.” September Asian badminton events cancelled due to pandemic The head coach said their main target is the 2020 Olympics next summer and if a player is infected with the virus, it may affect their chance of appearing in Tokyo, both qualification and the Olympic participation. He also noted that the two Cup finals are not part of the qualifiers for the Tokyo Games, which will only begin in January 2021. Hong Kong are chasing two spots in the men’s singles draw in Tokyo through Angus Ng Ka-long and Lee Cheuk-yiu, while Cheung Ngan-yi is also likely to make it in the women’s singles. In the mixed doubles, top pair Tang Chun-man and Tse Ying-suet should also take up their berths. The badminton world tour has been suspended since the All England Open Championships in March when Tang and Tse rushed back to Hong Kong after their quarter-final defeat. The pair were forced to undergo a 14-day home quarantine as required by the government.