Jakarta: Malaysian badminton superstar Lee Chong Wei and the Rio Olympic silver medal mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying have pulled out from the Indonesia Masters which is set to kick off the qualifying round on Tuesday. There’s no words yet from either the players or Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) about the reason for their withdrawals.
Few weeks ago, Lee has insisted that he would not able to participate in all 12 tournaments required by Badminton World Federation (BWF) for the 2018 calendar year.
BWF has made it compulsory for the world’s top 15 players in the singles events and top 10 pairs in the doubles disciplines to play a minimum of 12 tournaments in 2018, or to face a stiff fine if they fail to comply.
Lee had told Malaysian media last week that he would rather pay the fine imposed by BWF rather than playing in all tournaments.
“I am 35 year-old, I am not 25 anymore. Some players are actually taking a break right now to focus on the All England in March,” said Lee.
In addition to Lee, World No. 1 men’s singles player Viktor Axelsen, two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, top women’s singles including Carolina Marin, Saina Nehwal and the Chief coach of India Pullela Gopichand have all felt dissatisfied over the crammed 2018 BWF calendar, and have voiced their concerns of potential burnout playing through so many tournaments in a single year.
Viktor Axelsen told reporters when he was playing in the Premier Badminton League early January that BWF need to focus on quality instead of quantity.
“I think BWF need to focus on making the quality of the highest standard instead of putting more tournaments in the calendar,” said the Odense-born shuttler.
“We had some great badminton but if we can get the chance to practice and take care of our body we will have longer careers and better quality,” added Axelsen.
India’s former World No. 1 women’s singles shuttler Saina Nehwal also slammed BWF for the tight 2018 calendar.
“If BWF is trying to make badminton like tennis then they should have just 4-5 tournaments like Grand Slams with more money and coverage. If I were BWF president that is what I would have done. I am happy with more prize money but not so many tournaments,” said Nehwal.
“But with Commonwealth Games, Asian games and World Championship in 2018, you can’t challenge yourself mentally and physically every two weeks. There should be lot more time given to players so that if someone is carrying an injury that can be sorted but there is no time at all,” added Nehwal.
In addition to Lee Chong Wei, Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying, former World No. 2 men’s singles player Kento Momota of Japan will also skipped the Indonesia Masters due to an ankle injury.