Chong Wei will still go to Tokyo Olympics 2020, says Syed Saddiq

Malaysia’s badminton player Datuk Lee Chong Wei speaks during a news conference to announce his retirement in Putrajaya June 13, 2019. — Reuters pic
Malaysia’s badminton player Datuk Lee Chong Wei speaks during a news conference to announce his retirement in Putrajaya June 13, 2019. — Reuters pic

PUTRAJAYA, June 13 — National badminton champion Datuk Lee Chong Wei will certainly go to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo although he had announced his retirement today.

This time, his role will be very different because he will not be going as a competing athlete but as Chef-de-Mission (CDM) to the meet held once in four years.

This was announced by Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman at a special media conference to announce the retirement of the national singles shuttler.

Syed Saddiq said the decision to name the three-time silver medallist at the Olympic Games was made after holding discussions with the President of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria and Chong Wei himself.

“We have collectively decided to nominate Datuk Lee Chong Wei as the CDM for Tokyo Olympics 2020.

“The reason is simple. We cannot think of anyone better to fly the Malaysian flag high, and to also inspire our young athletes.

“As I mentioned before, although Datuk Lee Chong Wei chose to retire, his fighting spirit will not be suppressed. The fighting spirit of Datuk Lee Chong Wei will burn in the hearts and minds of our athletes in Malaysia, not just in badminton but all athletes.

“Even after knowing that he had to go through several medical processes which are quite tough, at the same time he made a decision to continue playing, continue to train. He didn’t stop. That shows that he is a true fighter like no other out there,” he said.

Meanwhile, Syed Saddiq said the Youth and Sports Ministry would always give its support to the former number one world shuttler in whatever decision he would make later.

“No matter what path he chooses to take after this, we will give our support. He is a true hero to all Malaysians.

“It is a privilege to serve you, sir. Thank you very much,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chong Wei said his selection as Malaysia’s Chef-de-Mission to Tokyo was like a “dream comes true”.

Chong Wei said although he would no longer go as an athlete, he hoped the role as CDM could help other athletes to realise the nation’s dream to bring home a gold medal for the first time from the Olympic Games.

“My main dream is certainly to be at the Tokyo Olympics... I still go, but not to play.

“I hope that we can get the first gold medal for Malaysia. I cannot get (it) but I hope the other athletes can bring back the first gold medal,” he said.

Chong Wei won the silver medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016, and became the first Malaysian to qualify for the men’s singles final and ended Malaysia’s medal drought at the Olympic Games since 1996. — Bernama