Top-seeded 'Minions' out of Thailand badminton after positive test

·2-min read
Indonesia's Marcus Fernaldi Gideon (L) and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo are affectionately known as the 'Minions'

Indonesia's men's doubles top seeds have been forced to pull out of next week's Thailand Open badminton after one of them, Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, tested positive for coronavirus, the Badminton World Federation said.

The withdrawal of Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon, affectionately known as the "Minions", is the latest loss for badminton's restart tournament, which is already missing the star-studded Chinese and Japanese teams over coronavirus concerns.

Sukamuljo developed coronavirus symptoms last month including a loss of taste and smell and a mild flu, according to the BWF website.

After testing positive he has been recovering in isolation at his home.

"Thank you for your prayers and support, I hope I can recover quickly and be able to train again as before," Sukamuljo said.

"This is also a lesson for me to always be vigilant in the future."

The Thailand Open is the first of three tournaments scheduled to take place in Bangkok in consecutive weeks, kick-starting the world tour after a coronavirus-ravaged 2020.

However, heavyweights China withdrew when coronavirus rules prevented them from leaving the country, Thailand's badminton chief told AFP.

And Japan were forced out after men's world number one Kento Momota tested positive before departure.

However, on Wednesday the BWF said all 824 people including players, coaches and umpires, living in "bubble" conditions in Bangkok, have tested negative and were cleared to train under strict safety protocols.

Thailand initially appeared to have escaped the worst of the virus, registering just under 4,000 total cases in November, despite being just the second country to detect an infection early last year.

But an outbreak last month at a seafood market has mushroomed, with infections now detected in 56 of the kingdom's 77 provinces. The caseload had risen to 9,331 as of Tuesday.

lpm/th