KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Lee Chong Wei is likely to miss next month's Malaysia Open and delay his comeback from nose cancer for a second time, an official said on Thursday (March 14), as the badminton great struggles to make a full recovery.
Norza Zakaria, president of the Badminton Association of Malaysia, warned fans to "lower their expectations" for the 36-year-old former world No. 1.
The three-time Olympic silver medallist has been on the sidelines since July last year, when he was diagnosed with early-stage nose cancer.
He underwent a gruelling programme of specialist treatment in Taiwan but opted not to retire and resumed training in January.
He originally planned to play the All England Open in March but then delayed his return to the Malaysia Open, where he is the defending champion, in early April.
But Norza said Lee looked likely to miss his home tournament and was now targeting the Sudirman Cup mixed-team event in China in May.
"The probability of him not playing in the Malaysia Open is very high," he told AFP.
"I don't think that he is fully recovered physically. He needs to train properly because the Malaysia Open is a very premier event.
"Fans should lower their expectations."
Lee, who has previously said he needs to get the all-clear from his doctors before returning to competitive play, will travel to Taiwan next week for a check-up, Norza added.
The player still hopes to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics but qualifying looks increasingly tough as other young Malaysian players are ranked above him.
Nose cancer is perhaps the biggest blow suffered by Lee, who was banned after testing positive for a proscribed anti-inflammatory drug at the 2014 world championships.