Malaysia’s top shuttler Lee Zii Jia has seemingly made a silent protest by turning his social media profile pictures black, after being handed a two-year ban from competing in international events by the Badminton Association of Malaysia confirmed on Friday. The No 1-ranked men’s singles player in the country had long expressed his intention to leave the Association, officially resigning as a national player on Wednesday. After two days’ consultation, Association deputy president Jaharbedeen Mohd Yunoos confirmed Lee would not be permitted to play in any Badminton World Federation (BWF) events for two years, subject to appeal. BWF rules have historically allowed for independent players, but they must be registered via their country’s member association, regardless of proximity to the national team. National singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia was slapped with two year ban by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) after his resignation from the national body. Just moments ago, his social media profile were changed to black. pic.twitter.com/AgLxXGDWpB — Norman Goh ♿🧠 (@imnormgoh) January 21, 2022 “As per terms of his contract, after much difficult deliberation, [the Association] has reached the decision not to resister Lee Zii Jia for any international tournaments for a period of two years starting from January 18, 2022,” Yunoos said in a press conference, reiterating that it is not a “ban” but “we are not registering them”. The 23-year-old former Southeast Asian Games gold medallist said he sought advice from legendary player Datuk Lee Chong Wei before making his decision. He was long-touted to be three-time Olympic silver-medallist Lee’s successor . Singapore public raises over S$130,000 for world champion Loh Retired Lee told The Vibes that he did not advise the world No 7-ranked athlete to stay or quit, but sympathised with the “immense pressure” of being ranked No 1 and hoped for “swift resolution”. The former world No 1 added it “pains me to see the state of Malaysian badminton – how did it get here?” View this post on Instagram A post shared by Lee Zii Jia 李梓嘉 (@leeziijia) “I have always [sought] advice from Chong Wei, be it for matters inside or outside the court,” Lee told Astro Arena ahead of the decision. “As for my decision, both [the Association] and myself want the best outcome from this situation. I want the best for my career. For me, it doesn’t matter if we are an independent or national player. What matters is we are carrying the national flag. “There will be some who support my decision and some who don’t. I’m not worried about that. My aim is only to do well and break into the top five this year.” Association president Norza Zakaria confirmed with Astro Arena that he received Lee’s letter of resignation, adding that “his priority is different” and “he looks to have made up his mind”. “We tried to persuade him [to stay] because we have groomed him since he was 13,” Norza said in a press conference on Wednesday. “However, he told us that he’s no Lee Chong Wei and he cannot cope with the pressure.” View this post on Instagram A post shared by Lee Zii Jia 李梓嘉 (@leeziijia) The Association reportedly had the right to sanction Lee for his decision as there is a member clause for players who quit prematurely. Lee is an All-England Open champion, beating Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in the final last March. Axelsen, now the world No 1, tweeted in support of the athlete, attaching a screenshot of what appears to be an excerpt from The Star that explained the BWF had “no comments” on the matter but “there is a precedent independent players and member associations … coming to an agreement whereby the member association will submit entries into tournaments for the independent player”. “Imagine yourself being in a position where you don’t feel happy in your current workplace and you want something to change. You go express your thoughts to your boss and tell her/him you want to quit and find another place to work,” Axelsen wrote. Imagine yourself being in a position where you don’t feel happy in your current workplace and you want something to change. You go express your thoughts to your boss and tell her/him you want to quit and find another place to work. 1/2 — Viktor Axelsen (@ViktorAxelsen) January 21, 2022 “However your boss is not happy about your decision and since they [have] the power to ban you from applying to jobs in your field, they might go ahead and do so. You have to wait and see. Just listen [to] how crazy this is. This is year 2022. Is this what we want for our sport?” The Association also banned women’s player Goh Jin Wei for two years starting in October after she came out of retirement but instead joined an independent professional team.