HYDERABAD // On a day when the World Badminton Championships were hit by the threat of swine flu, the unseeded Japanese Kenichi Tago shocked Danish seventh seed Joachim Persson 16-21, 21-14, 21-13 in the men's singles first round yesterday. Tago fought back from a game down to win in 57 minutes. There were fewer problems for former world and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat, who advanced to the second round with a 21-14, 21-14 win over Christian Boesiger of Switzerland.
The veteran Indonesian, winner of the 2004 Athens Olympics gold medal and the 2005 world championships, needed only 27 minutes to sweep past Boesiger in the first round. Ninth-seeded Yu Hsing-Hseih of Taiwan had to struggle for a 21-14, 19-21, 24-22 win over local hope Arvind Bhat in an hour and two minutes. Park Sung-hwan, the No 8 seed from South Korea, needed 55 minutes to oust Steinar Klausen of Norway 19-21, 21-13, 21-18, while No 16 seed Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand held off Lithuania's Kestutis Navickas 21-14, 14-21, 21-17. Top-seeded Lee Chong Wei and defending world and Olympic champion Lin Dan advanced late on Monday.
In the women's singles, No 9 seed Wang Chen of Hong Kong beat Taiwan's Chen Hsiao-huan 21-19, 21-10. The 12th seed Hwang Hye-youn and No 13 seed Pui Yin Yip also advanced. Unfortunately, the story of the championships has been the death of eight people and the infection of hundreds of others due to swine flu. A Malaysian coach was quarantined, while a doubles pair from Thailand pulled out of a match after one of them complained of fever. The championships are also being played under tight security after England pulled out citing a "specific terrorist threat", following media reports the event could be targeted by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The organisers have had to dismiss reports that China was planning to pull out too. "I have the entire BWF [Badminton World Federation] team with me. Nothing like that has come to our notice," BWF vice-president and Indian federation chief VK Verma said. "The Chinese coach has gone on record saying he is happy with the arrangements." * Reuters