Malaysian Lee’s regrets as Chen grabs gold

TEARS OF JOY: China's Chen Long weeps after defeating Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei to win the during the men's badminton singles gold medal match on Saturday. (AP)
Updated 20 August 2016

Malaysian Lee’s regrets as Chen grabs gold

RIO DE JANEIRO: Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei lamented a third consecutive Olympic final defeat on Saturday after China’s Chen Long beat the world number one in straight games for men’s badminton singles gold.
“Today leaves me with some regrets,” said Lee, putting on a brave face following his 21-18, 21-18 defeat to second-ranked Chen, who became Olympic champion for the first time.
“I went into the finals in three Olympics and came away with three silver medals.
“For me, for Malaysia, for the fans, I think we all hoped we could win the gold. I did my best but my opponent played better,” the 33-year-old added graciously.
Despite being one of the sport’s most accomplished players, the Malaysian has never won a world or Olympic title and will retire without that elusive gold medal.
“This was my last Olympics,” Lee said, but added that he wasn’t able to think about when he will lay down his racquet for good so soon after another heartbreaking defeat.
“I can’t think so much right now but this will be my last Olympics,” said the shuttler.
It was a first gold medal for London 2012 bronze medallist Chen. He took an early 11-8 lead in what turned out to be the deciding game before stretching his hold over Lee to 20-15.
There was no way back for the quiet Lee and Chen celebrated by running with his shirt off to the Chinese fans at the Riocentro venue after inflicting more Olympic heartache on the Malaysian.
Lee lost the previous two finals at the Olympic Games, in Beijing and London, to Chinese arch-rival and badminton superstar Lin Dan.
He fought his way back to the top of the rankings after returning from a doping ban last year for a final shot at Olympic glory.
Lee finally overcame his nemesis Lin in their last-four clash in Brazil and the end of the Rio Games brings the curtain down on their Olympic rivalry.
But Lee said he wished it could have finished differently.
“It’s the fourth Olympics for both of us and we have played against each other so many times.
“After beating Lin Dan I wasn’t that happy because I could really see our match being the big final.
“I think this will definitely be the last competition for both of us,” Lee added.
His defeat meant Malaysia’s hunt for a first Olympic gold in any sport continues.
“We still need a gold medal and I hope in 2020 in Tokyo we can achieve that,” said Lee, who added that he had no words for the Malaysian people following his loss.
World number two Chen said he had been determined to ensure that the men’s singles title stayed with China after Lin was dumped out by Lee.
“The key here was that a Chinese man won badminton gold. It was a little bit unexpected for me but all the hard work has paid off,” he told reporters.
Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen defeated Lin 15-21, 21-10, 21-17 to claim bronze.


Tokyo to skip one-year Olympic countdown over coronavirus: organizers

Updated 05 June 2020

Tokyo to skip one-year Olympic countdown over coronavirus: organizers

  • Games pushed back until July 23, 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak

TOKYO: Tokyo will scrap events marking a year to go until the postponed 2020 Olympic Games, organizers said Friday, citing the “current economic situation” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Games have been pushed back until July 23, 2021 because of the disease outbreak, though it remains unclear whether even that delay will be sufficient.
Last year, the city and organizers held a series of events to mark the one-year countdown, including unveiling the newly designed medals.
But given the global crisis, organizers ruled out a similar celebration.
“In view of the current economic situation, Tokyo 2020 will not be holding any events to mark the new one year to go milestone for the Games,” the organizers said.
“But we will consider what we can do to show our solidarity with the people.”
The confirmation came after reports in the Japanese media that organizers would scrap the event, fearing it was inappropriate given the global pandemic and the ongoing risk of infection inside Japan.
Kyodo News agency reported that posters and messages of encouragement to athletes might be put up and displayed online instead, adding that the organizing committee felt a more “moderate tone” was appropriate.
A nationwide state of emergency over the virus has been lifted in Japan, but a recent rise in cases in Tokyo has led to fears of a second wave.
The latest reports come after Tokyo’s governor confirmed the city and organizers are looking at ways to scale back next year’s Games.
Japanese media said streamlining plans could involve cutting the number of spectators and reducing participation in the opening and closing ceremonies.
The Yomiuri Shimbun daily quoted an unnamed source as saying that everyone including athletes, officials and spectators would be required to take a test for the virus.
Tokyo 2020 declined to comment on those reports, saying discussions about coronavirus countermeasures would be held “from this autumn onwards.”
Organizers and Tokyo officials face the twin headaches of ensuring the postponed Games can be held safely, given the pandemic, and keeping additional costs to a minimum.
But with the pandemic continuing to rage in much of the world, it remains unclear whether the Games can be held next year.
On Friday, a member of the organizing committee’s executive board said a decision on whether the Games could be held or not would need to be taken in spring.
“I think we need to decide around March next year,” Toshiaki Endo, a former Olympic minister told reporters, denying speculation that the IOC intends to make a decision in October.
IOC chief Thomas Bach said last month that 2021 was the “last option” for holding the Tokyo Games, stressing that postponement cannot go on forever.
He declined to say whether a vaccine was a prerequisite for going ahead with the Olympics, but was lukewarm on the idea of holding them behind closed doors.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said it would be “difficult” to hold the postponed Tokyo Olympics if the coronavirus pandemic is not contained.
And Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori has said the Olympics would have to be canceled if the disease isn’t under control by next year.