Chong Wei wants exemption from BWF’s minimum tournament rule

Chong Wei says it would be good if BWF created similarly sympathetic rules for its longest-lasting players. (AFP pic)

PETALING JAYA: Former badminton world number one Lee Chong Wei has voiced out against the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) new requirement for the top 15-ranked players to compete in a minimum of 12 top tournaments per year.

The new requirement could see him playing up to 19 tournaments, based on his other commitments to the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) and sponsors, the Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday.

“How can a top player cope? If the world body persists, the top players will not be able to give their best. They’ll eventually be burnt out,” Chong Wei told AP.

He admitted however, that regardless of how BWF decides to treat an appeal he had sent to be exempted from the rule, he has the support from the BAM on the issue.

“I have decided I have to miss some of these tournaments, or I risk shortening my career. But I have good support from my national association.

“They have agreed to pay my fines (for non-appearances) to the BWF. So that is what will happen,” Chong Wei was quoted as saying by AP.

The 35-year-old Malaysian badminton legend added that he was still hopeful that the BWF would extend to him the same privilege accorded to tennis superstar Roger Federer by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).

Federer, 36, is allowed to play a reduced schedule because he has competed for at least 12 years on the ATP Tour, has played at least 600 matches, and is aged over 31.

As a result he has been able to maintain his form and in January this year, won the Australian Open. The victory also brought him to the top of the ranks, making him the oldest world tennis number one in history.

Chong Wei said it would be good if BWF created similarly sympathetic rules for its longest-lasting players.

“It makes complete sense. But I don’t think it will happen. I sent a request to the BWF, explaining why this is too many tournaments for me, but I haven’t had a reply. And that was back in November,” he was quoted as saying by AP.

According to the report, other leading players support Chong Wei, including world champion Viktor Axesen of Denmark, two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, of China, and former women’s No 1 Saina Nehwal, of India.