SCOTLAND'S Imogen Bankier and her mixed doubles partner Chris Adcock have a received an apology from the Badminton World Federation after being told they must begin their Olympic campaign 24 hours earlier than expected this morning following last-minute changes to their Olympic schedule.
The BWF revised the programme published earlier this week after realising it did not comply with their own regulations concerning group matches. Bankier and Adcock are among the most badly affected.
BWF regulations stipulate that the top-ranked player or pair in each group must play the lowest-ranked in the first match of a round-robin section. Adcock and Bankier had been preparing to play China's Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei at 8.30am tomorrow but will now face Alexandr Nikolaenko and Valeria Sorokina of Russia at 9.40am today.
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Zhang and Zhao, the top seeds, start against Germany's Michael Fuchs and Birgit Michels tonight. Bankier, 24, and Adcock, 23, play the German pair tomorrow morning and the Chinese on Tuesday afternoon.
A statement said: "As the IOC [International Olympic Committee] required the application of this sequence when the group play was accepted in the Olympic Games regulations for the badminton competition, it was decided to revise the playing schedule accordingly. We apologise for the inconvenience caused by this change."
The BWF do not believe players will be particularly concerned by the changes as at most tournaments they only learn of the schedule the night before they play. Thomas Lund, the body's secretary general, said: "There were some matches that had to be rescheduled because the principle of number one in the group playing number four in the group first was not totally followed.
"The problem with the rescheduling was that we then had to separate the players who play in two categories to make sure they had enough rest time, so the changes became more than we would normally make. It is important we follow the principles of our regulations. The rules and integrity of the sport in this case are more important than upsetting some players. I am sure the players would all agree we need to ensure the matches are played in the right way."
Susan Egelstaff, Bankier's fellow Scot, also opens her women's singles campaign today with a group match against Slovenia's Maja Tvrdy. Egelstaff, 29, who won bronze at the Commonwealth Games in 2005, battled back from injury to qualify for her debut Olympics after shattering part of her thigh bone last October and says she plans to enjoy the London 2012 experience to the full.
She said: "The qualifying is very stressful because so much depends on it, and it seems like the longest year of your life, but this is really exciting. I pretty much thought my chances were gone and it is unbelievable to make it. I just want to play well because it has been such a tough year."