Badminton is one of the most competitive sports in the world, and tournaments happening across the calendar year, keeping track of the players, points, and qualifications becomes a bit exigent.
Indian fans had their fair share of confusion during this year's Olympic qualifications as higher ranked Srikanth Kidambi was left out of the Indian contingent.
Why was that and how does the BWF ranking tournament work?
The ranking of a badminton player is determined by the total of points earned by him/her in the preceding 52 weeks. As everyone knows Badminton World Federation world rankings have five categories - men’s singles (MS), men’s doubles (MD), women’s singles (WS), women’s doubles (WD), and mixed doubles (XD).
Points are earned by the players/teams who advance better in a tournament, and so their ranking depends on the points earned. Meaning, it does not matter how many number of tournaments one has played but how many numbers of points you have gained at which stage of those tournaments.
For better understanding, a player who has played 10 or fewer tournaments in the previous year can accumulate all the points they have earned in those tournaments. But, if a player has played more than 10 tournaments, then their ten best scoring finishes will be considered for points calculation.
The below table shows the points awarded in BWF-sanctioned Tournaments.
At the Olympic Games 3rd place will receive 10100 points. Fourth place will receive 9200 points.
The race to the Olympics
In January 2021, BWF released the rankings list to decide the participants in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
The list was determined by the total points earned by an individual player between April 29th, 2019, to March 15th, 2020, and January 4th, 2021, to May 2nd, 2021.
The top-8 ranked players in singles and top-16 ranked pairs in doubles earned direct entries at the Olympics. The maximum number of entries was restricted to two for all the countries in all the categories. Also, all the participating countries were only allowed eight men and eight women participants across the five categories. In total, there were 16 athletes from each country.
If any country had more than two players in the top-16 of the world ranking in singles or top-eight in doubles, then the two highest-ranked players/pairs will go through.
So from India PV Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth, and the men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy who earned direct entry to the Tokyo Olympics.
However, top-ranked stars Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth failed as they had earned enough points but failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics as they had seen a series of early-round exits in the Grade 1 and Grade 2 BWF tournaments.