Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s badminton players, coaches, and supporting staff departed for Tokyo on Saturday night at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and have arrived safely at the Narita International Airport in Tokyo Sunday morning.
The Malaysian team was given a formal send-off at KLIA by government officials on Saturday night.
Speaking to Malaysian media, the President of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), Mohamad Norza Zakaria praised the spirit and determination displayed by the eight Malaysian badminton players who will be competing in Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Norza said the badminton team was facing a lot of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic but it did not stop the players from working hard in training.
“The junior and senior players were complementing and helping each other during the training,” said Zakaria.
The Malaysian badminton team had undergone their final phase of training and preparation for the Tokyo Olympics at the Akademi Badminton Malaysia (ABM) for several weeks. All players were not allowed to leave ABM due to the health and safety protocol imposed by the Malaysian government to curb COVID-19 spread.
“They were no longer professional players vs. BAM players, but all training under one roof and playing for Malaysia,” added Zakaria.
“I am very proud of the enthusiasm and determination they have shown. They have overcome many difficulties and I am confident that they are now ready for Tokyo 2020.”
Meanwhile, Zakaria was also optimistic about how Lee Zii Jia will perform at the Olympics.
“Zii Jia faced various problems while participating in the Thai Open early this year. He is now better at handling pressure and is aware of the challenges that he will face in Tokyo.”
“After All England, I knew he was ready to face challenges in Tokyo 2020,” explained Zakaria, who spent about 30 minutes watching the final preparations of the Malaysian badminton team at ABM Saturday morning.
In the Olympics, all overseas athletes are required to take two COVID-19 tests four days before their departure to Tokyo, and they need to take another test upon arrival at the airport in Japan.
They will undergo a three-day quarantine and get tested daily. Athletes in the Olympic Village will not be allowed to leave the complex and will be required to wear masks everywhere, including in the gym.
The Badminton event in the Tokyo Olympics will kick off on July 24 and ends on August 2 at Musashino Forest Sport Plaza.