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Zii Jia, Jin Wei out in the cold

Lee Zii Jia's 2024 Paris Olympic dream was served a massive blow when the BA of Malaysia (BAM) confirmed yesterday that they will not register the All England champion for any international tournament in the next two years for prematurely withdrawing from the national squad.

In a press conference held at the Academy Badminton Malaysia in Bukit Kiara, the national body clarified that both Zii Jia, and former world junior champion Goh Jin Wei, who also left the national setup last year, will be sidelined for two years as BAM have drawn up rules in the event that players want to leave the national fold on their own accord.

"We received the resignation letter from Zii Jia on Jan 11. Since then, concerted efforts were made through several informal discussions with Zii Jia to reconsider his decisions" said BAM deputy president, Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Yunoos, who is also the national body's Legal Advisory Committee chairman.

"However, he stood by his decision, citing the following reasons during the discussion, that he can't withstand the pressure of being in the national squad, as well as the regimented lifestyle at ABM.

"During one of the discussions with the committee, Zii Jia submitted fresh terms to continue his career with BAM. Following a thorough deliberation, BAM reached the decision to reject those terms.

"The terms he wanted was to have his own team of coaches and support service, to plan his own tournaments and to have his own sponsors.

"Following a thorough deliberation, BAM reached the decision to not register Zii Jia for any international tournament for a period of two years, effective from Jan 18 (2022)" added Jahaberdeen.

BAM admitted that the decision to not register Zii Jia and Jin Wei for any tournaments in the next two years was not an easy one to be made, but necessary in order to safeguard BAM integrity and position as an institution and custodian of the national badminton interest.

"BAM made efforts to persuade both players to reconsider their decisions. Both players, however, refused our offers and incentives.

"As the custodian of the national badminton interest, the association has reached these difficult decisions to safeguard not only the ecosystem of the national badminton as a whole, but also the players nurtured and developed by BAM.

"There are also financial repercussions that we, as the association would have to consider as it would impact the development of the national players. Even now as we speak, our sponsors have already made contact with us," added Jahaberdeen.

All is not lost, however, for both the players, as they can still make a U-turn on their decision and return to the national fold, by filing an appeal.

"BAM is compassionate and we are ready to welcome back these players with open arms, if they are ready to appeal.

"It has happened in the past, with Toh Ee Wei (mixed doubles). She also faced a two-year sanction but she appealed and we took her back in.

"But we need to be clear that BAM is bigger than any single player. This is national interest."

BAM also realise that they will be without the services of both the players at major events this year, which include the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Bangkok, the Hangzhou Asian Games, Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and the Sea Games in Vietnam.

A two-year ban will also see both players out of contention for the next Olympics, as the one-year Olympic qualifying period for the 2024 Games will commence in the middle of next year.

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