Lee Zii Jia is one of the brightest prospects for Malaysian badminton ahead of Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) views the one-year postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as a blessing in disguise for its players, allowing them additional preparation, according to its secretary general.

Badminton is one of Malaysia's strongest Olympic sports, with a lot of expectations resting on the shoulders of the country's players.

Speaking to Free Malaysia Today at the BAM invitational championships, the country's first organised badminton tournament since March, secretary general Kenny Goh said the postponement has a "silver lining" for the team.

"We should be able to prepare ourselves better with the postponement," Goh said.

"It gives our players more time and opportunity to train."

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were moved to 2021 and are now scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8.

Goh added that the team is youthful in comparison to rival nations who have retiring players - an example being China's Lin Dan, who was twice the Olympic champion in the men's singles in 2008 and 2012 but retired this month - so is in a position to improve.

"For some countries with older players in their teams, one year makes a big difference, but the majority of our players are comparatively young and it could be good for us."

Malaysia won three badminton medals at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images
Malaysia won three badminton medals at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

Current restrictions in place for badminton tournaments in Malaysia include outlawing handshakes, limiting numbers in the playing hall, reducing the number of technical officials on court and requiring them to wear masks and face shields.

Malaysia has a rich history in men's badminton, winning the first three editions of the Thomas Cup and later going on to win the 1967 and 1992 titles as well.

A purple patch of form for the nation came from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s, when Malaysia reached at least the semi-finals on seven of nine occasions.

Eight of Malaysia's 11 Olympic medals have come in badminton, including three silvers at Rio 2016.

Malaysia also finished top of the badminton medals table at three consecutive editions of the Commonwealth Games from 2006 to 2014.

Malaysia currently has players in the top 10 in the men's singles, men's doubles and mixed doubles world rankings, with 22-year-old Lee Zii Jia recently popping into 10th in the singles rankings.