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Innocent Admission

Covid-19 has made badminton event at Tokyo unpredictable: Lee Chong Wei

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Kuala Lumpur, July 21, 2021- The Tokyo Olympic Games will be very special due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made it difficult to predict the outcome of the badminton competitions, said Malaysia’s badminton legend Lee Chong Wei on Wednesday.

Citing the experience of Malaysian athletes, Lee said that those participating in Tokyo have made great efforts and gone through severe mental trauma training in isolation and undergoing constant COVID-19 tests. “This is very different from the four Olympic Games that I participated in,” he said.

The Malaysian, who has won three silver medals for Malaysia at three consecutive Olympic Games, added that the circumstances had made the Games “very special”.

The veteran says it’s very difficult to predict the outcome of the badminton competition as the form and shape of many shuttlers remain unknown due to the lack of international tournaments since the outbreak of the pandemic.

“The last major tournament was the All England Open in March, in which many players were absent,” he said.

“For example, the Chinese badminton team hasn’t participated in international tournaments for over a year. So whether it is Chen Long, Shi Yuqi or any other player, we simply do not know if they are in good shape or what is their latest tactics,” said Lee, referring to the two Chinese men’s singles players.

But in general, Lee sees hosts Japan and China in better position as both teams are strong in all five disciplines. “All I can say is that this Olympic Games is very special, and I think anything could happen,” he said.

Lee was diagnosed with nasal cancer in 2018 and announced his retirement in 2019. Lee said he is now in good health but decided against travelling to Tokyo due to concerns over the pandemic, but he would cheer for the Malaysian Olympians and provide advice to them, hoping that they would finally complete his unfinished quest to win the first Olympic gold medal for Malaysia.

Lee said he has mostly settled down for life after retirement, but the passion still arises whenever he watches one of his matches against Lin Dan, his nemesis from China.

“We are still in touch,” said Lee, “Since we both are retired, we could finally enjoy watching (each) others’ play.”

One of the epic battles between Lee and Lin was the men’s singles final in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games when Lin clinched his first Olympic gold. Despite the defeat, Lee said he would never forget the experience in Beijing, and he was very impressed by the perfect organising and facilities of the Beijing Olympic Games, which make him confident that the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Beijing would be a success.

“As an overseas Chinese, I am very proud that China would host the Winter Olympics,” he said. “I sincerely hope that the pandemic will subside by the time of the Games, and I will be able to travel to China to watch it.  (Agency)

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