BENGALURU: Just when it looked like sport in the country was picking up the pieces after the lockdown, badminton has been hit by a severe shortage of shuttles.
Yonex shuttles, which are used by a big majority of players in the country, including the national campers, are in short supply, with many dealers admitting that they are down to the last few tubes. The scarcity has been acutely felt from July, with one dealer saying that the last refill he received was in June.
Sources attributed the shortage to a ban imposed by the central government on shuttle imports from China.
“More than 90 per cent of the shuttles in the world are manufactured in China. The procurement of raw material (goose feathers) too happens on a similar scale in that country. It is a virtual monopoly. Import of shuttles is not possible now as the government has banned all feathered products from China,” the sources said.
National badminton coach Pullela Gopichand admitted to the shortage and pointed out that practice at the national camp would be adversely affected if the crisis was not addressed.
“We have not received shuttles for the Thomas & Uber Cup camp and are using from our existing stocks. If we do not receive shuttles soon, it will impact the training in sometime,” Gopichand said.
Academies and training centres have been judiciously using the old stock or getting shuttles in small quantities from friends overseas. Thin attendance at many training centres has also helped in cutting usage of shuttles but not for long.
Expressing deep concern, U Vimal Kumar, co-founder and chief coach of Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy said: “We are back to full strength at the academy and training is on in full swing. Now, we are given to understand that in a couple of weeks, shuttles won’t be available. This is distressing and worrisome. A solution needs to be found soon.”
With the shelf life of shuttles being very limited, some percentage of the old stock may be past its use-by date, sources pointed out.
“There is no point in training with brittle shuttles. We need fresh stocks. Also, with Covid-19 protocols curbing reuse of shuttles, we need a steady supply and for that imports will have to be allowed,” the sources said.