KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — National badminton legend Datuk Lee Chong Wei hopes the crisis between the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) and men’s singles ace Lee Zii Jia can be resolved amicably.

The three-time Olympic silver medallist said news of Zii Jia’s decision to quit BAM had become a high-profile topic that has caught the attention of badminton fans worldwide.

He said nothing good would come of the issue if it is prolonged, adding that it would instead paint a negative picture of BAM among foreign badminton fans.

“Not just in Malaysia, the whole world knows about this (Zii Jia quitting BAM). I feel that this is not very good for the national badminton squad. I hope this matter can be resolved swiftly and focus returns to badminton. Don’t let it become a big issue,” he said when contacted by Bernama today.

Yesterday, BAM president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria confirmed that Zii Jia had decided to quit the national governing body to become an independent player and that the shuttler tendered his resignation letter on January 11.

Mohamad Norza said BAM had held a series of discussions with the 23-year-old reigning All England champion to persuade him to stay on but to no avail.

Elaborating, Mohamad Norza said that among the reasons cited by Zii Jia in wanting out was that he is not Chong Wei, can’t stand the pressure and wants to achieve what he wants on his own space and without (a life) that is constrained and regimented.

BAM are expected to announce their decision on the matter tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Chong Wei said it would not all be a bed of roses for independent players, especially in terms of finding a training venue and coaches as well as working out recovery programmes because all these would need to be looked into by the shuttler himself, unlike in the BAM where all these are provided for.

According to Chong Wei, BAM are among the (badminton) organisations who have some of the best and complete training infrastructures.

“But he (Zii Jia) must already have his own plans and the most important thing is that it is his decision. It doesn’t matter if he is in (the BAM) or out, what is important is that he is comfortable enough to perform at the highest level… but it won’t be easy,” he said.

Zii Jia’s performance in 2021 was very inconsistent. He began the year dismally in the first three tournaments in Thailand before creating a sensation when he emerged All England champion in March.

The Kedah-born shuttler then featured in his first Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, where he lost to China’s Chen Long in the last 16.

After guiding the national team to a bronze in the Sudirman Cup mixed team championships, he had to grapple with fatigue and injuries in several tournaments that he competed in, including having to withdraw from the Indonesia Masters in Bali and BWF World Championships in Huelva, Spain. — Bernama