KUALA LUMPUR: World No 2 Lee Chong Wei dropped a bombshell after his first round defeat in the Malaysia Masters on Wednesday by stating that he rather pay the fine than commit to at least 12 tournaments this year on the World Tour as required by the Badminton World Federation (BWF).
The BA of Malaysia wrote to BWF recently requesting them to review their new ruling. However, BWF have yet to respond.
Chong Wei said it is impossible for him to perform at his best in every tournament on the World Tour.
“I will discuss with my coach and BAM, and if there is a fine to be paid, then I will just pay it as I am not getting any younger to be playing in too many tournaments,” Chong Wei, who will turn 36 in October.
“I think BWF are not reviewing the new ruling as if they wanted to, they would have done it a long time ago. The season has begun, so I doubt they would review it now.”
"As I have mentioned before, my main focus this year is the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the Jakarta Asian Games."
On Wednesday, Chong Wei lost 19-21, 21-18, 21-19 to Japan Kenta Nishimoto.
China’s five-time world champion Lin Dan and reigning Olympic gold medallist Chen Long along with World No 5 Son Wan Ho of South Korea and seventh-ranked Chou Tien Chen of Taiwan all lost their first round matches on the same day.
Under BWF’s new ruling, the top 15 players must compete in 12 tournaments, comprising three Level Two, five Level Three and four Level Four stops in a season.
The Malaysia Masters is the first Level Four tournament of the year.
BAM have decided to support Chong Wei and will allow him to choose his tournaments even if it means paying fines to BWF.
BAM honorary secretary Datuk Ng Chin Chai said: “We fully agree with Chong Wei. It doesn't make sense for a player to play in 12 tournaments a year.
"He lost in the first round because he was not prepared physically and mentally for the Malaysia Masters.
"Under the previous (Super Series) cycle, top players are only required to play in eight to nine tournaments, and they had a two-month break at the end of the season before the All England (in March) in the following year.
“It is not the same now. Players have to play in January starting with the Malaysia Masters. BAM wrote to BWF requesting a review but they have yet to respond,” said Chin Chai.
It is learnt that a player will be fined a maximum of US$5,000 (RM19,800) if they miss a tournament.