Tze Yong's Olympic hopes hanging in the balance

KUALA LUMPUR: Due to the bad timing of his injury, men's singles Ng Tze Yong may have no choice but to play in five back-to-back World Tour events from February to March.

Tze Yong, who is still in the running to qualify for the Paris Olympics in July, has not played in tournaments since the Super 1000 Malaysia Open early this month after sustaining a lower back injury in the first round at the Axiata Arena.

After assessing the extent of the injury, the world No. 15 skipped the Super 750 India Open, Super 500 Indonesia Masters, and the Super 300 Thailand Masters, which start on Tuesday in Bangkok.

The BA of Malaysia (BAM) is cautious about speeding up Tze Yong's return to competitive action but is also aware of the time constraint as the end of the one-year Olympic qualifiers draws near (April).

For now, Tze Yong is expected to make his comeback at the Badminton Asia Team Championships (BATC) in Selangor on Feb 13-18.

Depending on his fitness, Tze Yong will then likely play in the German Open (Feb 27-Mar 3), French Open (Mar 5-10), All England (Mar 12-17), Swiss Open (Mar 19-24), and the Madrid Spain Masters (Mar 26-31).

"We have no choice for that," said BAM coaching director Rexy Mainaky.

"If Tze Yong is fit enough to play five in a row, then he must do it."

Based on the Race to Paris standings, Tze Yong is barely hanging on to his Olympic spot as he is ranked No. 14, four rungs below Lee Zii Jia (No. 10).

A country can have a maximum of two singles players at the Paris Olympics if ranked in the top 16 at the end of the qualifying period.

The Asian Championships in Ning Bo, China, on April 9-14 will be the last tournament to offer Olympic ranking points.

Meanwhile, in Tze Yong's absence from the Thailand Masters this week, all eyes will be on former Asian junior champion Leong Jun Hao.

World No. 37 Jun Hao, who replaced the injured Justin Hoh for the BATC, will open his campaign against a qualifier in the first round.

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