KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 — Reigning All England champion Lee Zii Jia hopes to do well in the two remaining Olympic qualifying tournaments – Malaysia Open and Singapore Open – so as to boost his confidence ahead of the Tokyo Games in July.

The 23-year-old Kedahan said both the tournaments were important warm-ups to the July 23-Aug 8 Tokyo Olympics.

Having just resumed training last Friday after nearly two weeks of quarantine following the detection of 15 COVID-19 cases at the Akademi Badminton Malaysia (ABM), Zii Jia admitted that time was running out to get ready for the Malaysia Open (May 25-30) and Singapore Open (June 1-6).

“Only two weeks left, but I’ll try to do what I can,” he said after receiving his second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine jab at the DBKL Sports Complex here today.

The world number 8, who is more confident of competing overseas after completing both doses of his vaccine jab, however, admitted that he would have to remain cautious as there was still a risk of contracting the virus.

“When we take to the court, we do not wear face masks, so it’s hard to prevent (from being infected). What we can do is to have the self-discipline to reduce the risk of infection. Even if we get (infected), there is nothing we can do because we do not know who are the ones who are infected,” he added.

Meanwhile, Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director Wong Choong Hann said all parties should be prepared to compete under the new normal and continue to take precautionary steps because the pandemic is not expected to “disappear” any time soon.

He said they would continue to monitor the players’ development and rehabilitation before setting any targets for the Malaysia and Singapore Opens, although it is evident that they are highly determined and motivated since resuming training.

Choong Hann said that for now, most of the world’s main shuttlers had registered their names and keen to compete in the Malaysia Open since it is one of the last two tournaments to collect qualifying points for the Olympics.  

However, he explained that the presence of the world’s best shuttlers would also depend on the tournament’s standard operating procedure (SOP), which the government will release soon.

“So far, none of the countries have indicated that they are thinking of pulling out. The SOP that will be released may hold the key to whether they will come or pull out,” he said.

He said that besides Zii Jia, among the other Malaysian shuttlers set to compete in the BWF World Tour Super 750 tournament are Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani, Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean, Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah, Soniia Cheah and Goh Liu Ying-Chan Peng Soon.


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