KUALA LUMPUR: Team LZJ have leapt to the defence of Lee Zii Jia following the controversy that arose in the Asian Games mixed zone in Hangzhou after his defeat to South Korea's Jeon Hyeok Jin in the men's team event on Thursday.
In a statement released today, Team LZJ refuted claims that Zii Jia deliberately cut short the interview, as reported by several Malaysian media outlets.
The statement, on Team LZJ's social media accounts, clarified that Zii Jia conducted himself professionally during his post-match interview.
It explained that Zii Jia had to stop the interview to adhere to the time limit of between one and a half to two minutes, as stipulated by the Games organisers.
"It is with great disappointment that Team LZJ feels the need to address reports made by certain Malaysian media," read the statement.
"The reports claimed that Team LZJ and Lee Zii Jia himself created controversy by cutting short the post-match interview after his match for Team Malaysia in Hangzhou on Thursday, 28th of September 2023.
"Team LZJ would never engage in such actions. What transpired at the mixed zone was under the purview of the Asian Games organisers."
Team LZJ voiced their disappointment over the reports, accusing the media of tarnishing the reputation of the former All England champion.
"Team LZJ, including Lee Zii Jia, has always held the nation's media in high regard, recognising their significant role in shaping Lee Zii Jia both personally and in his career as an athlete," the statement read.
"Team LZJ has always striven to the best of our abilities to accommodate the country's media, and we've never shied away from offering perspectives on performances, even when things don't go in our favour.
"We openly accept criticism regarding our performances, as it's part and parcel of participating in high-performance sport.
"However, at this juncture, we feel that we've endured enough unwarranted character assassination in reports about Lee Zii Jia.
"Team LZJ deeply understands your disappointment at our inability to secure a point for the team, and we can't apologise enough."
In the mixed zone at the Binjiang Gymnasium while Zii Jia was in the midst of answering a question, an official intervened, stopping the interview. And he was ushered away, leaving journalists in the lurch.
Tze Yong and the doubles pair of Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi were also defeated, resulting in Malaysia's 3-1 loss to South Korea in the Round of 16.