GEORGE TOWN: Men’s singles world No 1 Viktor Axelsen and a former deputy minister today ripped into the Badminton Association of Malaysia’s (BAM) two-year ban on national shuttler Lee Zii Jia.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion took to Twitter, describing Zii Jia’s predicament using the analogy of a disgruntled worker who left his job but was later banned by the employer from working anywhere else.
“Just listen how crazy this is. This is year 2022. Is this what we want for our sport?” the Danish player tweeted.
Zii Jia, the country’s No 1 men’s singles player, announced his resignation from BAM earlier this week. In response, BAM announced today that he will be banned from representing the country in international tournaments for two years effective Jan 18.
Former deputy youth and sports minister Steven Sim said Zii Jia’s ban by his own country is “drastic and unjustified”.
Sim told FMT that the move was “very unhealthy” and appeared to be a warning shot at others who plan to leave the national body.
He said BAM should sit down with the world No 7 to ask what went wrong instead of resorting to such tactics.
“There is something wrong when the No 1 player in the country calls it quits. BAM as well as the youth and sports ministry must find out why.
“There is no need to kill off his career. I’m afraid this kind of ‘warning’ is a sign to others not to go against their authority,” Sim said, adding that it was not the way to resolve any internal problems and grouses.
“All must sit down and reconcile. That is the best thing to do when top athletes decide to leave.”
Meanwhile, former national shuttler James Selvaraj said BAM should explain why Zii Jia was banned to prevent speculation and contempt against the association.
Similarly, he said Zii Jia should come out to explain his stand and plans, for he owes an explanation to all as the country’s No 1 player.
James said in BAM’s defence, they helped nurture Zii Jia and badminton great Lee Chong Wei, and provided their players state of the art training facilities.
“So, is it the money? Is it the training facility? It’s in everybody’s mind. What was Zii Jia’s problem?” he questioned.
“With the ban, it has put both BAM and Zii Jia at disrepute, as everyone will start speculating on what caused the ban and what made Zii Jia leave.”
Another legendary shuttler, Ng Boon Bee, said Zii Jia should return to BAM, given the two-year ban would likely reduce his performance drastically.
“If he thinks he is pro enough, and can manage on his own, then fine. Or else, best to return to BAM,” he said.
“I’ve heard rumours about him going to train in Dubai. There is no doubt BAM have the best facilities. Zii Jia better decide quickly.”
Get tough, Rashid urges BAM
Former national player and coach Rashid Sidek has urged that stern action be taken against Zii Jia in order to prevent others from leaving.
He told Berita Harian the national number one should not be spared for his sudden exit, urging BAM to be tough or else “lose respect” as the country’s foremost badminton body.