Huelva braced for badminton world championship without local star Marín

Huelva, Spain, Dec 11 (EFE).- The 2021 BWF World Champions are set to get underway at Huelva’s Palacio de los Deportes Carolina Marín without the local star the venue was named after.

The Olympic gold medalist, three-time world champion and five-time European champion ended the speculation on Friday when the decision to keep her out of the competition, which runs from Sunday until December 19, was made public.

Although her knee injury means she cannot play, Marín will be involved on the fringes of the competition, taking part in events with fans and signing autographs.

Her absence at the competition, held in her hometown, will be noticeable but 400 players from 54 different countries offer up a star-studded schedule.

Defending world champion Kento Momota also withdrew from the men’s singles this year, meaning his opening rival, Indonesia’s Michal Rogalski, gets a free pass to the next round.

A challenger for the title is Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, who also starts against an Indonesian, Loh Kean Yew.

The Dane knows what it is like to win in Huelva following his victory in the European championships in 2018.

His compatriot Anders Antonsen, the current European champion after beating Axelsen in Kiev this year and third seed in Huelva, will start against Russian Vladimir Malkov, while fourth-seeded Chou Tien Chen will take on Thailand’s Sitthikom Thammasin.

In the women’s category, Spain’s Clara Azurmendi will open proceedings against Russian Evgeniya Kosetskaya with the winner going on to play Tai Tzu Ying (China Taipei), the world’s current No. 1.

Added to Marín’s absence is that of world No. 2, China’s Chen Yu Fei.

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