Bird flu blamed, as badminton camp abandoned

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Top badminton players miss out on camp because of BAI's failure to get shuttlecocks

Updated: February 08, 2008 12:34 IST
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The Badminton Association of India has slammed the sports ministry for a delay in importing shuttlecocks to India.

The delay has proved costly. A national camp for the Thomas and Uber Cup, due to begin in Goa on Thursday, had to be called off today because of a lack of shuttles.

India's top men's player Anup Sridhar is ranked 27 in the world. His female counterpart, Saina Nehwal, is ranked 29. However, the two along with the rest of the national team will not be able to practice for the Thomas and Uber Cup qualifiers because the camp has been called off because of the missing shuttlecocks.

VK Verma, the BAI chief, laid the blame on the Sports Authority of India.

"We told (SAI) that we can import the shuttles at our own cost," Verma said. "And they can reimburse us later. But they told us we will also need the clearance. The proposal has been lying with them for the last 6 months.

The sports ministry says its hands are tied because of import restrictions from China on account of bird flu. All shuttles used in India are imported and they are made from goose feathers.

Former shuttler Uday Pawar has a different take on that. "Chinese shuttles are the best in the world," he says. "They are chemically treated so there is nothing to worry about. SAI should have convinced the sports ministry of them.

By rough estimates, players need 15-20 shuttles a day. BAI claims this has nothing to do with bird flu. It's just SAI causing procedural delays.

Unfortunately, local shuttlecocks cannot resolve this crisis. India's international players can't use them because of their poor quality.

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