Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia banned from international badminton tournaments for 2 years

Malaysia shuttler Lee Zii Jia in action at the 2021 Thomas Cup.
Malaysia shuttler Lee Zii Jia in action at the 2021 Thomas Cup. (PHOTO: Shi Tang/Getty Images)

Malaysia's top shuttler Lee Zii Jia has been hit with a two-year ban from international tournaments, following his resignation from the national badminton squad.

Badminton Association of Malaysia deputy president Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos told The Star that the reigning All-England men's singles champion could not register for any tournaments with effect from 18 January.

This means that Lee, 23, cannot play in any Badminton World Federation-sanctioned tournaments around the world.

Lee had shocked the nation when word got out earlier this week that he had tendered his resignation from the national squad on 11 January.

"When you make these decisions, there are punitive measures in place," Jahaberdeen was quoted as saying by Stadium Astro.

Lee had been touted as the next Malaysian badminton star after former world No.1 Lee Chong Wei, who retired in 2019. However, after winning the All-England Championship in March last year, Lee suffered a dip in form, and failed to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics and the World Championships.

According to BAM, one of the reasons Lee cited for his resignation is that "he is not Chong Wei, and he cannot handle the pressure", and wants to achieve things on his own.

The New Straits Times reported on Thursday that Lee Chong Wei is "extremely saddened" by news of the younger Lee's resignation.

"Of course, Zii Jia is not me but I told him that pressure is something that will always be there. If you want to be the world's best, there will be pressure," he told New Straits Times.

"The association can never be perfect, but even I wasn't. Surely, there were issues and misunderstandings throughout my time with the national team, but I realised that everything can be solved with proper discussion.

"It pains me to see the state of Malaysian badminton. How did it get here?"