Early this week, Malaysia's top men's singles badminton player Lee Zii Jia stunned the nation when he announced his resignation from the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM):

While the BAM has reportedly yet to accept his resignation, there are already rumours about the punishment they were going to mete out to the shuttler for leaving the national team.

A decision is coming

If an unnamed source were to be believed, the 23-year-old could be facing a lenghty ban.

A source close to BAM told New Straits Times that the 2021 All England men's singles champion is looking at a two-year ban for quitting the national team prematurely.

BAM is expected to make the announcement at a special press conference at the Academy Badminton Malaysia in Bukit Kiara at 4pm today (Friday, 21 January).

"Nothing is confirmed yet, but word is that Zii Jia is facing a two-year ban.

"If that is the case, I reckon his career is good as over," the source told New Straits Times.

Image credit: The Star

On Tuesday, BAM president Norza Zakaria confirmed that Lee had tendered his resignation letter on 11 January.

Lee cited tremendous pressure and the lofty expectations of living up to former Malaysian badminton legend Lee Chong Wei as the main reasons for his resignation.

What's next for Lee?

While Lee's career still hangs in the balance, there are a few paths that he could still take to resume his promising badminton career.

One, the BAM could make a special exemption and release Lee as he's still an important figure for the nation because he's expected to lead the country's charge at this year's major badminton tournaments such as the Thomas Cup in Bangkok, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the Asian Games in Hangzhou and the Sea Games in Vietnam.

According to NST, BAM have banned players like Tan Chung Seang and Toh Ee Wei for quitting prematurely before, but Toh later rejoined the national team soon after being pardoned.

Image credit: Lifestyle Asia

If BAM decides to ban Lee from participating in tournaments, he could then go professional like some of his fellow shuttlers and wait out the ban period.

And the third option -- the most unlikely but also the 'we won't blame you but we understand' option -- is that Lee could just join other countries such as Singapore and play for them.

This article by Badminton Planet points out that if Lee meets the 'International Representation' clause in BWF's General Competition Regulations handbook, Lee could take his talents to the island down south.

There are a few criteria to meet, of course, like he can only play in certain tournaments, but that could be an option for Lee if the BAM decides to ban him.

MAIN IMAGE CREDIT: Facebook/Lee Zii Jia