The sight of a doctor in a blue jacket became a familiar one at the Asian Leg in Bangkok last month. But it was also an intriguing one. Just who was the man attending to athletes?
“I’ve been working in sports medicine for 35 years,” BWF Tournament Doctor Ajaya Rana introduces himself.
“I’ve worked under the Government of Nepal, including for the National Sports Council of Nepal, taking on the responsibility of the healthcare systems of 10 national federations including badminton.”
Hailing from the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, and educated in Southeast Asia, Germany, Japan and England; the orthopedic sports medicine specialist has been a lifelong badminton fan and is a former footballer and modern pentathlete. A speaker of three languages including Hindi, Dr. Rana describes himself as “an all-rounder.”
Starting 1993, Dr. Rana has been working for the Asian Football Confederation as a medical and panel doctor, including being an anti-doping doctor for FIFA. He has been an on-court doctor for BWF since 2017.
“It’s key to be patient, to be a good listener and communicator when working with athletes,” he says.
Having observed the shuttlers from close quarters in Bangkok, Dr. Rana lauded their desire to compete even when in pain.
“Fortunately I was in Bangkok for three amazing tournaments. This was my third experience of sporting events inside a COVID-19 bubble. I really appreciate the guts the athletes have. These athletes show their ambition, their perseverance. They want to keep on playing,” he said.
“BWF, Badminton Association of Thailand and the Royal Thailand Government put on a tremendous effort to make these events completely secure. The measures implemented, like mask-wearing, not shaking hands, regular swab tests, sanitisation stations and maintaining your distance were to ensure everyone’s safety. It shows that sport can return in a safe and secure way. We as medical professionals are privileged to serve these incredible athletes. When their passion is so great to keep sports alive, we’re all part of the same family.”
Dr. Rana noted there had been some concern from the players in the first week over routine swab testing and isolating in hotel rooms for three days upon arrival.
“In the initial stage, of course things will be difficult. We’re so happy to have staged three successful tournaments. When we try hard, everything is possible.”