Tokyo: China has withdrawn all its badminton players from this week`s Japan Open, citing safety fears as ties between Beijing and Tokyo worsen over a territorial row, officials said today.
The withdrawal leaves the Tokyo-based tournament bereft of some of the sport`s biggest names and is the latest piece of collateral damage in a dispute that has dominated regional headlines in recent weeks.
"The BWF can confirm the Chinese contingent has withdrawn from the Japan Open," Thomas Lund, the Badminton World Federation`s chief operating officer, told AFP. "It is unfortunate but the tournament will go on," he added.
An official of the Table Tennis and Badminton Centre of China`s central sporting administration told AFP: "We`ve quit the Japan Open."
"The decision was to ensure players` safety... So considering the intense China-Japan relations these days, we quit."
The decision was taken last Friday, he added.
A Japanese spokesman for the tournament said China informed the BWF on September 14 that 22 players would not be competing.
The Japan Open began today and ends on Sunday with the BWF re-drawing the men`s singles, women`s singles and men`s doubles ties after the announcement.
The Chinese Badminton Association sent a letter to the BWF saying that its players would not be competing in the eighth leg of the Super Series event, S. Selvam, BWF`s Superseries marketing manager, told a news agency.