AFP – China has withdrawn all its badminton players from this week’s Japan Open because of safety fears as ties between Beijing and Tokyo worsen over a territorial row, officials said on Tuesday.
“The BWF can confirm the Chinese contingent has withdrawn from the Japan Open,” Thomas Lund, the Badminton World Federation’s chief operating officer, told AFP.
“It is unfortunate but the tournament will go on,” he added.
An official of the Table Tennis and Badminton Centre of China’s central sporting administration told AFP: “We’ve quit the Japan Open.
“The decision was to ensure players’ safety… so considering the intense China-Japan relations these days, we quit.”
The decision was taken last Friday, he added.
A Japanese spokesman for the tournament said that China informed the BWF on September 14 that 22 players would not be competing.
The Japan Open began on Tuesday and ends on Sunday with the BWF re-drawing the men’s singles, women’s singles and men’s doubles ties after the announcement.
China and Japan are involved in an escalating territorial dispute over the Diaoyu islands, a small island chain in the East China Sea.
The Chinese Badminton Association sent a letter to the BWF saying that its players would not be competing in the eighth leg of the Super Series event, S. Selvam, BWF’s Superseries marketing manager, told AFP.
The absence of strong Chinese players such as Chen Long who was due to defend the title, and Lin Dan and Chen Jin, could be a blessing for top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia who becomes the new favourite to win the Japan Open.