Should badminton legend Lin Dan retire? The debate has attracted heated discussion in China, especially with Father Time catching up with the two-time Olympic champion and Tokyo 2020 being delayed for a year. The topic has been reacted to over seven million times on Weibo as Lin, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion, will turn 37 in October. He has taken part in four Olympic Games from Athens 2004 to Rio 2016. Despite his age and a world ranking that has dropped to 19th, Lin is still keen to play but his hopes of making the Tokyo Olympics are fading fast. His last match was at the All England Open in mid-March where he lost for a third successive time to compatriot Chen Long in a second-round encounter. “I think it’s too early to talk about my retirement,” he said afterwards. “I would not give up any hope of making it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics until the very last moment.” Those who support the veteran say Lin is an irreplaceable figure in Team China and, as long as he is eligible to play, no one can stop him. One of his fans posted on Weibo: “My book of life began on the night when Lin met [Malaysian arch-rival] Lee Chong-wei in the 2012 London Olympic final. No matter if Lin retires or not, no one can replace him for the contribution he has made to world badminton.” China’s Lin hopes to use Hong Kong Open to earn Olympic qualifying points But with every passing year, Lin’s performance is more closely scrutinised and many fans now say he should retire and make way for the younger generation for the sake of the sport’s future in China. In 2018, Lin lost nine times in the opening round, and last year he suffered eight first-round exits. In his first three tournaments of 2020, he also bowed out in the first round until the All England Open where he made it to the second round. These embarrassing performances suggest Lin is not the same player, especially in terms of his physical ability. Others criticise Lin suggesting he is only carrying on because of his 10-year contract with badminton apparel giants Yonex, which ends in 2025. Lin earns a reported 10 million yuan (HK$10.9 million) a year with the supplier. Lin Dan refuses to rule out Olympics despite another poor performance With the Badminton World Federation calling off all tournaments until further notice because of the coronavirus pandemic, Tokyo Olympic qualification, which was due to end this month, is hanging in the balance. Now that the Games have been postponed for a year, the qualification period may be extended, revitalising Lin’s hopes. Lin is now third within Team China, behind Chen, the world No 5, and Shi Yuqi, who is ninth in the rankings. A team can send only two players to the Tokyo Games if they are both in the top 16. But Lin is almost 12,000 points behind Shi. A Super 1000 level tournament like the All England Open is worth 12,000 points to the champion, while an event like the Hong Kong Open on the Super 300 level offers the champion 9,200 points. It’s fantastic Lin Dan is winning at 35, says ex-Olympic champion Hoyer Considering Lin’s recent performances, it is unlikely he will catch Shi as his last title dates back to the Malaysia Open a year ago. But there is no sign Lin will stop playing soon. Danish badminton club Hojbjerg announced on Wednesday that Lin will join them next season. The club hopes Lin’s move to Aarhus can reinforce the High Mountain League team and, at the same time, help develop the best talent in the region.