China have left out their mega star Lin Dan from the Sudirman Cup squad.
But they are still looking good to win the world mixed team event for a record ninth time when the 13th edition begins from May 19-26 at Stadium Putra in Bukit Jalil.
The closing date for entries ended yesterday but it was learnt that China did not include their famed four-time world champion and two-time Olympic Games champion Lin Dan when they submitted their list to the Badminton World Federation (BWF).
They, however, continued to show that they had faith on another of their aging senior stars – men’s doubles four-time world champion and reigning Olympic gold medallists Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng – by including them.
With China BA’s surprise decision, it will be the first time that Lin Dan will not be in the mixed team event since helping them recapture the crown in 2005 at Beijing. He was also the lead player in the team who won three more crowns in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
China also won in 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2001 but lost to South Korea in 2003 at Eindhoven, Holland.
In Lin Dan’s absence, China are set to use the services of one of their other three players – reigning All-England champion Chen Long, Du Pengyu and Wang Zhengming – to win the points in the men’s singles tie.
Top seed China have been drawn in Group A with Indonesia and India. In Group B are Thailand, South Korea and Hong Kong while Group C consists of hosts Malaysia, Germany and Taiwan. In Group D are Denmark, Japan and Singapore.
Only the top two in each group will advance to the quarter-finals. The top four teams based on the latest world ranking will be seeded and a draw will be conducted to determine their last eight opponents.
For the record, with China’s decision, the hope of seeing a re-match between Lin Dan and Malaysia’s No 1 player Lee Chong Wei will not materialise during the Sudirman Cup. Fans are hoping that China will include Lin Dan for the World Championships in Guangzhou in August.
Lin Dan did not qualify but China can drop one of their players to accommodate their star player when the second phase of qualifiers is finalised by BWF next month.
Chong Wei and Lin Dan last met at the 2012 London Olympic Games final with the former going down fighting and, thus, failing in his bid to become Malaysia’s first Olympic gold medallist.