Malaysia will be without the services of Lee Chong Wei during the Asia Team Championships, the qualifying event for the Thomas Cup, after the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) decided not to select the world number five in order to allow him to focus on the Olympics.
Chong Wei was Malaysia’s most successful shuttler in 2015 as he won five titles and reached the final of the World Championships in Jakarta in August, a run which leaves him on track to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro
As a result, BAM have decided to allow him to focus on that task, and give younger players an opportunity to make the step up. It will be the first time since 2004 that Chong Wei has not featured at the event.
“We’re not including Chong Wei because we want him to prepare for the Olympic Games. Chong Wei feels the same,” BAM deputy president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria told The Star. “This is the time for Malaysian badminton to rely on the next generation of players.”
Zakaria added that BAM are mulling over the prospect of pulling all their possible Olympic-bound players out of the Thomas Cup squad, which means that the country’s top men’s doubles pair of Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong may not feature in the tournament. BAM have until January 29 to submit their Thomas Cup squad.
The Asia Team Championships will be held from February 15 to 21 in Hyderabad, India, while the Thomas Cup Finals will be played in Kunshan, China, from May 15 to 22.