Indian men were handed an easy opening round draw while the women’s team will face tough first round opponents at the Sepaktakraw World Super Series starting in New Delhi on Thursday.

The Chinese team in women’s event and Philippines in men’s section have decided to skip the tournament due to visa-related issues. India is hosting its maiden international sepaktakraw event. This is the first of the four World Super Series legs held in a season.

“It is unfortunate that Chinese women’s team and Philippines men’s team will not take part in the event. The Chinese team told the world federation that their government did not give clearance. Regarding Philippines, their government did not clear their visa requests,” SFI General Secretary Yogender Singh Dahiya said.

Indian men’s team, seeded fourth, benefited from the pulling out of Philippines as they are now guaranteed a place in the quarterfinals as they have only Singapore in their group.

The Indian women’s team too is seeded fourth and have Korea and Indonesia in their group, besides Vietnam.

The four-day event, being held under the aegis of International Sepaktakraw Federation (ISTAF), will witness 11 countries in men’s and seven in women’s section. Only top two teams in each group will advance to the knockout stages.

The ISTAF Super Series, which features ‘Regu’ match format, will be held at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Complex here.

ISTAF is hoping for a successful tournament in India so as to further popularise the game in the country.

“Participation of India and hosting the super-series event will only enhance our dream of participating in Olympic.

We hope, we can do it in coming years. I am confident that we will participate in World Games 2017 in Poland,” General Secretary of ISTAF, Dato Abdul Hamil Kader said.

The knockout stage of the competition -- on Saturday and Sunday -- will be telecast live on DD Sports.

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