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Turkish player joins Indonesia team on badminton sideline

March 18, 2021 GMT

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — A Turkish badminton player was withdrawn from the All England Open on Thursday, hours after the entire powerful Indonesia team was also forced out because of coronavirus protocols.

Neslihan Yigit, who won her first-round match on Wednesday, was withdrawn because she was on the same flight from Turkey to the United Kingdom as the Indonesia team.

An unnamed person on the flight tested positive for the coronavirus, the Badminton World Federation said. That meant all badminton players and officials on the flight had to self-isolate for 10 days, as ordered by the U.K.’s National Health Service test and trace branch.

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All affected players were withdrawn, all opponents in the first or second rounds were given walkover wins, and the draw remained unchanged.

For Indonesia, that affected several medal contenders: Men’s doubles top seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, two-time champions; second seeds Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan, the 2019 champions; fifth seeds Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto; mixed doubles top seeds Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti, the defending champions; women’s doubles third seeds Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu; No. 5-ranked men’s singles player Anthony Sinisuka Ginting and No. 7 Jonatan Christie.

Indonesian Minister of Youth and Sports Zainudin Amali said he was disappointed with the BWF’s decision.

But the BWF said it “and Badminton England would like to clarify that the decision to enforce Indonesian team players and entourage, and now Yigit, to self-isolate for 10 days was made independently by the NHS Test and Trace service.”

The start of one of badminton’s biggest tournaments was delayed for hours on Wednesday to rerun a large batch of positive and inconclusive virus tests on teams. All retested as negative.

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