KUALA LUMPUR (March 19): Malaysian badminton fans will have to wait longer to see Datuk Lee Chong Wei back in action after the shuttler withdrew from the 2019 Malaysian Open, which will be held at Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil from April 2-7.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) said in a statement today that although the 36-year-old was recovering well, his doctor had advised him to pull out from the Level 3 Badminton World Federation (BWF) tournament so as not to put his body under undue stress.
“BAM’s priorities remain focused solely on Chong Wei’s health and we will continue to offer him our unwavering support. We also urge everyone to give him the space and time required for his recovery,” the national badminton body said.
Based on the draw released by BWF earlier this month, 12-time Malaysian Open champion Chong Wei was scheduled to meet India’s number one, K. Srikanth in the opening round.
Following Chong Wei’s withdrawal, the national badminton squad will now be banking on youngsters like Lee Zii Jia and Soong Joo Ven to deliver the goods in the US$700,000 (RM2.852 million) tournament.
Chong Wei, who laid off badminton for eight months after undergoing treatment for nasal cancer in Taiwan, won the Malaysian Open from 2004 to 2006; from 2008 to 2014; as well as in 2016 and 2018.