Rising star Lee Cheuk-yiu will be making a last-ditch effort to reach the Tokyo Olympics with the unfinished qualification competition set to resume in Singapore next year. The Hong Kong number two is 18th in the qualifying campaign, two places behind the cut-off ranking for a team to send two men’s singles players to Tokyo next summer. “We were told the world body will resume the qualification event in March with three open tournaments that will all take place in Singapore,” said Sports Institute head badminton coach Tim He Yiming. “This is to be done possibly for the sake of pandemic control to minimise air travel for the players and ensure safety.” “The qualifiers were stopped more than eight months ago and we all want to see it return because it means a lot to the players, especially for Lee who is still chasing his Tokyo Games spot.” Jason Gunawan crowned youngest-ever Hong Kong men’s badminton champion at 16 Following the global outbreak of Covid-19 early this year, the Olympic qualifiers were abruptly stopped in March after the All England Open in Birmingham, just a few weeks before it was scheduled for completion. The German Open, which should have been held ahead of the British event and two other major tournaments – the Swiss Open and the Singapore Open – were cancelled because of the virus outbreak. A number of small events such as Orleans Masters, Polish Open and Finnish Open were also axed. Staging all tournaments in Singapore reduces the need to travel and offers a safer environment to prevent infection. Hong Kong Badminton Open called off following revamp of world tour due to Covid-19 pandemic “It should give us some advantages of having the qualification in Asia because of the geographical proximity but in the end it’s the quality of players that count,” said the coach. “Lee has been making good progress but he still needs to prove it on court if he wants to represent Hong Kong at the Tokyo Olympics.” Last year, Lee became the second home player following Angus Ng Ka-long to clinch the men’s singles title at the Hong Kong Open. He beat some big names such as China’s Shi Yuqi and Victor Axelsen, of Denmark on his way to the final, where he overcame Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting. Lee will be able to prepare for the qualifiers with the Hong Kong team planning to take part in two Thailand Open tournaments in January. The two super 1000 level events are under Badminton World Federation’s plans to relaunch the world tour during the pandemic. Hong Kong turns down chance to play in Thomas and Uber Cup finals due to high Covid-19 risk in Europe “The organisers have promised a safe environment with the help of the Thai government and our players should take part after such a long absence from the international stage. They need competition before the qualifiers resume,” said the coach. Other Hong Kong shuttlers chasing Olympics spots include women’s singles player Cheung Ngan-yi and mixed doubles pair Tang Chun-man and Tse Ying-suet. Cheung is 20th in the qualifiers, which will see a total 38 players playing in Tokyo, while the doubles duo are ninth out of 16 pairs that will qualify. World number eight Angus Ng’s place in men’s singles remains safe.