Marcus Fernaldi Gideon, left, and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in their first round match in Birmingham before they were asked to self-isolate on March 18, 2021. (Photo Courtesy of BWF)

UK Envoy Says Sorry after Indonesian Badminton Players End Up in Quarantine

BY :THE JAKARTA GLOBE

MARCH 18, 2021

Jakarta. British Ambassador to Indonesia Owen Jenkins said on Thursday he feels sorry after all Indonesian badminton players were forced to withdraw from the All England Open over coronavirus fear.

The entire Indonesian team including players and coaching staff were asked to self quarantine by the Badminton World Federation following notification by the UK National Health Service.

The notification followed positive result for a passenger in the same UK flight with the Indonesian team.

“It is very unfortunate that the Badminton World Federation have said that essential Covid-19 precautions will limit Indonesia’s ability to participate in the All England Club Badminton Tournament,” Jenkins said in a statement.

“As much as we all like to watch, I feel most sorry for the players affected. They have to continue to give their best, in difficult circumstances. The famous and world-renowned All England club tournament is weaker for Indonesia not being represented.”

Jenkins said the embassy are in touch with the relevant authorities in the UK to see if there is anything further that can be done, but the tournament in Birmingham that kicked off on Wednesday has continued without Indonesian players and their next opponent will now advance to the next round.

“Sadly this is the world we are living in now. It is right that countries apply strict health protocols, as UK and Indonesia do, that those rules are applied fairly and transparently,” Jenkins wrote.

However, the BWF announced on its website that the decision to put Indonesian players and a Turkish player in the same inbound flight under quarantine has come from the NHS.

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

“Subsequently, BWF and Badminton England had no other option but to follow the NHS directive and withdraw the participants from the tournament.”

It added the NHS decision is “final and non-negotiable”.

“We also share the frustration felt by the players, as well as the many Indonesian supporters around the world. We sympathize greatly with what has happened and apologize for the inconvenience caused to the Indonesian players and team entourage, and Yigit from Turkey,” it said. 

Team manager Ricky Ahmad Subagja said all 24 players and coaching staff have been asked to self quarantine at their hotel for 10 days.

He said all team members had received their second dose of Covid-19 vaccine prior to the flight and undergone polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based test upon arrival in Birmingham, with the results coming back negative.

The NHS notification came when men’s double players Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan were in the middle of their opening match, Ricky said.

“They said a passenger in our flight from Istanbul to Birmingham has tested positive for Covid-19. We have no idea who the person was, but it was us who paid the price," Ricky said in a video conference from Birmingham.

All the players walked to their hotel because no vehicle came to pick them and they weren’t allowed to use the hotel lift, he added.
 

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