Asian golfers could lose out if Olympics go ahead: Tour chief

Cho Minn Thant
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Updated 20 March 2020

Asian golfers could lose out if Olympics go ahead: Tour chief

  • Asian Tour Commissioner and CEO Cho Minn Thant confirmed that all tournaments across the continent had been suspended until at least the end of May

HONG KONG: The Olympics going ahead in Tokyo this year is “highly unlikely,” the boss of Asian golf told AFP, and proceeding as planned could cost players the chance to qualify.

The International Olympic Committee said this week it was “fully committed” to holding the Games from July 24 despite the coronavirus pandemic, but acknowledged there was no “ideal” solution as pressure mounted for a postponement.

Asian Tour Commissioner and CEO Cho Minn Thant confirmed that all tournaments across the continent had been suspended until at least the end of May, in line with the US PGA and European Tours.

“I think everyone right now is more in a state of shock, just trying to figure out what they do with themselves,” said Cho, speaking by telephone from Asian Tour headquarters in Singapore.

With the prospect of scarcely any competitive golf before the Olympic rankings qualifying cut-off on June 22, Cho said it would be harsh on players from unheralded golf nations.

“Our plan initially was to have about 16 or 17 tournaments before the Olympic cut-off,” Cho said. “Today, we probably have only about four or five Asian Tour players eligible for the Olympics.”

On current rankings, only Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond and Gunn Charoenkul, the Indian pair of Rashid Khan and Udayan Mane plus Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines would represent the Asian Tour in the 60-strong Tokyo field.

“Given the amount of golf that was left to be played, we were hopeful that more players from nations like Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines would have the opportunity to get into the Olympics over the next two or three months,” said Cho.

“Obviously, that’s not going to happen.

“I can understand why they would want to push forward with the Olympics — there would be huge revenue ramifications on the economy of Japan — but it seems highly unlikely now in my opinion.”

Cho said that he had not yet heard of any players suffering financial hardship but acknowledged that a long layoff could have an impact.

Players such as the world No. 39 Jazz, last year’s Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, will remain in the US where he had been due to play a full schedule before a debut at the now-postponed US Masters next month.

“I keep in contact with quite a few players and a lot of them are comfortable,” Cho said.

“I feel for the guys who just came through qualifying school and they’ve probably played one or two events in their life.

“It’s very different to having a bad season where you’re missing cuts, but you still have got the opportunity to compete.

“Right now you’re deprived of the opportunity to compete. That’s a whole different ballgame.”

The Asian Tour can play all-year round, which means the crisis could lead to a permanent shift in the Asian golfing calendar to a wraparound season played from September to April.

“A tour like Europe’s going to have a lot harder time rescheduling events. Theirs is a very short golf season,” Cho said.

“I’m hoping that we can continue golf this year, whether it be July, September, October or November. It will definitely help mitigate the potential downside.

“If we could start between July and October, it means we will probably go through to April. We’ve been planning a wraparound season for the longest time but never really formalised it.

“We’re talking to sponsors and promoters. They’re definitely ready to go. They’re prepared to stage events whenever the world is ready to get back to normal.”


Chinese badminton superstar Lin Dan retires

Updated 04 July 2020

Chinese badminton superstar Lin Dan retires

  • Lin Dan will not be competing in the next Olympics in Tokyo

BEIJING: China’s two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, arguably the greatest badminton player of all time, announced his retirement on Saturday aged 36.

It means that Lin, who won gold at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, will not compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which were pushed back to next summer because of coronavirus.

The end of Lin’s glorious career comes just over a year after the retirement of his great rival and friend, the Malaysian star Lee Chong Wei.

The duo reigned over the sport for more than a decade and have only relinquished that hold in recent years as their powers waned.

Lin, who had something of a “bad boy” reputation during his younger days and has several tattoos, ends with 666 singles wins and a glut of medals.

“My family, coaches, team-mates and fans have accompanied me through many peaks and difficult troughs,” he said in a post on China’s Twitter-like Weibo that quickly went viral.

“Every forceful jump was a desire for victory.

“I have dedicated everything to this sport I love.”

As well as the double Olympic golds, Lin was also a five-time world champion and a long-time former world number one.

Lin earned the nickname “Super Dan” at the peak of his career.

However, the left-hander’s career has tailed off in recent years as age and injuries took their toll.

He always said that he was determined to reach the Tokyo Olympics, but his ranking of 19 in the world and the postponement of the Games made that dream unlikely.

Lin had always maintained that he would try to make it a last Olympics hurrah in Tokyo in an unlikely bid for a third Olympic gold.

But he said on Saturday his body would not allow him to plow on.

“’Persevere’, I said to myself in every moment of suffering, so that my sporting career could be prolonged,” he wrote on Weibo.

“Rather than simply pursuing rankings as I did when I was younger, in these years, I have been wanting to challenge the physical limits of an ‘old’ athlete and practice the sporting spirit that I will never give up.

“(But) my physical abilities and pain no longer allow me to fight alongside my team-mates.”