KUALA LUMPUR: The Lee Zii Jia saga at the Hangzhou Asian Games could be turned into a high-budget Bollywood masala movie, with elements of mindless action, comedy, tree-to-tree dance moves, and poor acting, and yet becomes a high-grossing venture.
It is quite puzzling that Malaysian badminton has more action off the court than on it.
Much like a poorly scripted Bollywood movie, anything written about Zii Jia is shared and retweeted by thousands on social media, not excluding positive and negative comments from fans.
Zii Jia's actions in the mixed zone at the Asian Games have riled up fans and journalists, and many officials are concerned as he is there to win a medal for Malaysia.
In the first mixed zone controversy, Zii Jia abruptly ended his interview with selected journalists at the Binjiang Stadium in Hangzhou to adhere to the time limit set by the Games organisers during the men's team tie against South Korea.
After defeating Hong Kong's Angus Ng in his men's singles first-round match on Monday, Zii Jia drew attention again, catching journalists by surprise.
In summary, he expressed his desire to protect his family and warned that he would "chase" anyone who crosses the line.
Although the issues have been settled amicably, the entire event clearly shows that the world No. 16 is under immense pressure due to mixed results, which is affecting him in all aspects of his life.
Everyone hopes that Zii Jia will eventually find a solution and bring glory to the nation.
However, he needs to switch off his phone and focus on his badminton career.
Perhaps his PR team should do a better job in helping him connect with fans and the media through a positive social media presence.
Instead, Zii Jia's fans on X (formerly known as Twitter) have become intimidating, even threatening journalists for highlighting the shuttler's shortcomings in tournaments.
Many have portrayed him as a cult-like figure, untouchable and immune to criticism, which is unfair, as a journalist's role is not only to praise but also to assess and highlight a player's shortcomings.
No one is perfect, and it's important to hold athletes accountable for their performances.
Zii Jia is undoubtedly a talented player, as even former Olympic champion Chen Long has acknowledged.
However, his career has been topsy-turvy since turning professional.
If only Zii Jia could stop embroiling himself in controversies and creating unnecessary distractions, he would have a chance to become the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) in the same league as Lin Dan in badminton.
Despite all the controversies, journalists hold no malice and hope he wins a medal in the men's singles event for Malaysia in Hangzhou.
It would significantly boost his confidence, regardless of whether it's gold, silver or bronze.
Good luck, Zii Jia.
Ajitpal Singh is the Sports Editor of NST