India's Saina Nehwal Nehwal was actually virus free and is able to return to play

Bangkok (AFP) - Indian badminton star Saina Nehwal has been cleared to play after a false positive Covid-19 result, Thailand Open officials said Tuesday, following a testing muddle that sent top players to hospital.

Four players – Nehwal, Egyptian mixed doubles player Adham Hatem Elgamal, German mens and mixed doubles Jones Ralfy Jansen, and India’s HS Prannoy – tested positive for the virus, officials said.

But while Elgamal and Jansen were declared negative in re-examination of their samples, the two Indian players were taken to a Bangkok hospital, Badminton World Federation said earlier.

But late Tuesday officials announced that following further tests Nehwal and Prannoy were actually virus free, along with Jansen, and able to return to play.

The BWF tweeted that Nehwal’s match would be rescheduled for Wednesday.

Elgamal has been forced to withdraw after testing positive on the swab test and then returning a negative antibody test.

The Egyptian player has been sent to hospital for further observation and tests and will remain in isolation for a minimum 10 days.

His mixed doubles match with partner Doha Hany scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed.

“Subsequently, the Egyptian team are considered high risk,” the Federation said in a statement.

As a direct contact, Hany will have daily tests under self-quarantine until further notice, the BWF said.

Women’s singles player Hadia Hosny, despite being a close contact, can play subject to a negative test.

The federation and the Badminton Association of Thailand said they were following all necessary safety measures, adding there were stringent contact tracing measures in place.

Nehwal’s husband, men’s singles competitor Parupalli Kashyap, was forced into hotel isolation and missed a match but the federation is yet to confirm its rescheduling.

Meanwhile, India’s Rio Olympics silver medallist PV Sindhu was a high-profile casualty on day one as she lost to Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt, 16-21, 26-24, 21-13.

The Thailand Open is badminton’s restart tournament after the sport was all but sidelined since the All England Championships in March because of the pandemic.

It is the first of three consecutive tournaments played in strict bio-secure conditions and behind closed doors in Bangkok, culminating in the World Tour Finals from January 27.

Thailand’s badminton chief last month told AFP the tournaments would be the “safest in the world”.