Shuttler Angus Ng Ka-long would never have expected to wait such a long time to play his next match when he returned from the 2020 All England Open in Birmingham. Nor would he have expected to compete under such rigorous conditions. The Hong Kong No 1 will take on Mark Caljouw of the Netherlands in the opening round of the “bubbled” Yonex Thailand Open on Wednesday, his first match in 10 months as the global pandemic outbreak wreaks havoc on the world sporting calendar. In another men’s singles first round match, fast-rising Lee Cheuk-you will meet Abhinav Manota of New Zealand, while mixed doubles pair Tang Chun-man and Tse Ying-suet will take on Sumeeth and Sikki Reddy of India. Since Ng and his fellow Hong Kong team members arrived Bangkok 10 days ago, they have been tested twice for Covid-19 and mostly isolated in their hotel rooms. “The organisers have introduced very tight quarantine measures under the bubble set up and it’s understandable,” said the world No 8 Ng, who is almost certain to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer. “We can only stay in the hotel room other than for a brief one hour and 15 minute daily practice session and the same amount of time for physical exercise in the temporary gymnasium. “All transport from the hotel to the venue is made by designated vehicle and we only train on our own with no contact with other teams. Badminton players return to action in Bangkok amid Covid-19 concerns “Of course, the training time is insufficient compared to what we did at the Sports Institute prior to our arrival in Bangkok but other teams also face the same situation so you cannot say it’s not fair.” Under the regulations, all players have to dine at the hotel, but the food quality hasn’t lived up to their expectations. Women’s world No 1 Tai Tzu-Ying of Taiwan and 2017 world champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark have complained about eating only dry chicken breast, while the Danes even questioned the rationale of not allowing the players to go outside even with a mask on and observing social distancing. Hong Kong shuttlers get used to stringent testing protocols at Bangkok Badminton Open pic.twitter.com/WkkznKG8EN — SCMP Sport (@SCMP_Sport) January 12, 2021 Despite the tight measures, Ng said all of the players were looking forward to the tournament, which will be followed by another event in the same venue next week before the World Tour Finals are held, also in Bangkok. The two Opens each offer a lucrative total prize pot of HK$7.8 million while the Tour Finals will see a staggering HK$11.7 million awarded. Covid-19 concerns see Indonesia pull out of Thomas and Uber Cups The BWF has revamped the world tour since the pandemic outbreak, with only one tournament in Denmark in October before the back-to-back Thailand events. Most of the Asian powerhouses did not attend the Danish tournament due to the pandemic. Both China and Japan also pulled out of the Thailand events, with the Japanese delegation being halted at the Tokyo airport after world No 1 Kento Momota tested positive for Covid-19 before boarding a flight. Saina Nehwal of India, however, withdrew from the tournament after testing positive on Tuesday, conceding a walkover in her first round match against Selvaduray Kisona of Malaysia. Nehwal’s husband, Parupalli Kashyap, had also withdrawn from the tournament and is currently quarantined in his hotel room. “We have not played for such a long time and each player will respond to the situation differently,” Ng said. “We have already done sufficient training and preparation in Hong Kong before the departure but we all want to test ourselves on the playing courts against real opponents. Hong Kong shuttlers warming up ahead of the start of the Yonex Thailand Open in Bangkok pic.twitter.com/80SWrATVvZ — SCMP Sport (@SCMP_Sport) January 12, 2021 “The tournaments here have nothing to do with the Olympic qualification but I still want to do well in both Opens so that I can qualify for the Finals.” Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan-yi’s woes continued against Michelle Li of Canada as she suffered her sixth defeat at the hands of the eighth seed, losing in two tight sets 21-17, 24-22 in the women’s singles opening round on Tuesday. In the mixed doubles, Chang Tak-shing and Ng Wing-yung got off to a winning start with a 2-0 win (21-8, 21-14) over Oliver Leydon-Davis and Anona Pak of New Zealand.