Badminton’s bio-bubble: Carolina Marin and Tai Tzu Ying get on, Saina Nehwal unhappy

Saina Nehwal after posting an incandescent selfie, however, revealed her displeasure at some rules.

Badminton’s strictest bio bubbles in Bangkok, Thailand invited contrasting reactions: while the likes of Carolina Marin and Tai Tzu Ying got on with it fashioning workout equipments out of what they found in the hotel rooms, Saina Nehwal was unhappy with the restrictions.

Nehwal after posting an incandescent selfie, however, revealed her displeasure at some rules. In a series of tweets, she said: “The physios and trainers cannot meet us during the entire tour after all of us have tested negative ? How is it possible to maintain ourselves. We want to play the tournament in good condition. Please sort this @bwfmedia”.

She also added that the stipulated one hour daily practice and gym “was not enough to be in perfect shape.”

She continued: “No Time for warm ups / taping / cool downs / stretches..we are talking about the best players in the world competing isn’t it ? We’ve spent a lot of money getting the physios and trainers along with us . If they can’t help us then why was this not told before ?”

She, however, had misread the rules and jumped the gun, for it was only for the first three days of the quarantine that noone was permitted to step outside their rooms till the test results came in.

Also, all countries were permitted two 1-hr slots on court in morning and evening.

BWF clarified that the same rules applied to everyone: “The Prospect clearly states that all athletes and personnel here in the Green Bubble in Bangkok must stay in their room until practice commences tomorrow on 6 January. It is a condition of entry that everyone follows this. Today, around midday Bangkok time, Badminton Association of Thailand (BAT) and BWF got a request from Saina Nehwal via BAI seeking permission for Saina Nehwal to see her physio. BAT informed BAI and Saina Nehwal of the protocol in the Prospectus and informed her that there is a procedure in place to allow athletes to see their physios in their rooms only once practice has commenced tomorrow on 6 January. A special procedure/appointment is still needed for any personnel to leave their room to go to the Practice Hall, or in the case of a physio, visit the athlete they treat.”

Olympic champion Carolina Marin, meanwhile, posted her quarantine video where she uses a resistance band, a chair and a towel inside her Bangkok hotel room to wrap up a quickly improvised workout of planks, burpees, upper body stretches and sit-ups to Colombian crooner Maluma’s hit Spanish number ‘Parce’.



A post shared by Carolina Marin (@carolinamarin)

On another floor of the hotel, Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying is using her assigned crate of water bottles for weight training.

Badminton’s second return in the pandemic season for a three-tournament cluster at Thailand, is witnessing one of the strictest quarantine regulations imposed on international athletes. Starved of world-class competition however, shuttlers are finding newer ways to get through the confinements. Using social media to set ‘bio-bubble’ trends, Tai Tzu’s proposed one-knee fitness challenge of clutching the ankle behind the back and standing up while balancing on one foot, has taken off in individual rooms to much gleeful posts on Instagram as pillows and slippers are fashioned to avoid the knee grazing.

Thailand is going through a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases (745 countrywide today with Bangkok declared a ‘high-risk’ zone) with the capital facing very stern restrictions on movement, short only of lockdown. The Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was quoted as saying, “We don’t want to lock down the entire country because we know what the problems are, therefore can you all lock down yourselves?”

However committed to get badminton going after most of the season was wiped out, the country has set regulations for around 200 shuttlers and staff, including a week-long quarantine where the first three days were restricted to rooms.

Strict restrictions
The buses allotted to each team have run the set of rules on loop on a screen. BWF said that no positives had turned up yet though an official confirmation will be out on Wednesday when those negative will be handed Green AD cards so they can proceed to point to point hotel – stadium training sessions.

Only two persons are allowed per elevator trip and cleaning staff are sanitizing the lift after every run. Players can leave the room only if their activities are declared in advance and granted permission.

For the first 14 days of quarantine, three packed meals will be left on tables outside the room, and they will be allowed to order from outside only after two weeks. Room service can be ordered post the initial quarantine, via messenger apps LINE and WhatsApp.

Clothes racks are stationed outside every room where used playing gear can be hung for limited laundry service while a red bag is to be left for garbage disposal. Laundry bags will need to be secured as clothes will be washed and dried while still spun inside the bag.

International athletes notorious for leaving assorted paraphernalia on unkempt beds for hotel staff to pick after them, while they go out to conquer championships, will now be obligated to make their own beds and leave no item on it, if they expect the linen to be changed.

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