KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Badminton star Lee Chong Wei will miss the World Championships in August after falling down the rankings following a prolonged absence due to cancer, an official said on Wednesday (May 8).
It means the Malaysian former world No. 1 loses the chance to win the world title for the first time, and deals another blow to his fading hopes of competing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Michelle Chai, general manager of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), said Lee - currently ranked 113 in the world - would not play in the championships in Switzerland from Aug 19-25.
"Lee Chong Wei won't take part in the world championship as he currently does not qualify on merit," she told AFP.
A country can send a maximum of two players who are inside the world top 150 and there are two Malaysians currently above Lee - Lee Zii Jia and Liew Daren.
BAM president Norza Zakaria confirmed the body would endorse players based on rankings released at the end of April.
"As we know, Chong Wei is not part of the list and he is still working on his fitness," he was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper.
"The priority for Chong Wei now is for him to recover from his ailments, so let's focus on that first."
The triple Olympic silver medallist has been out since July last year when he was diagnosed with early-stage nose cancer.
The 36-year-old endured a tough treatment programme in Taiwan but opted not to retire and resumed training in January.
He skipped the All England Open in March and the Malaysia Open in April - both tournaments where he had hoped to make a comeback - and will also miss this month's Sudirman Cup mixed-team event in China.