It means that Lin, who won gold at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, will not compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which have been pushed back to next year because of coronavirus.
The end of Lin’s glorious career comes just over a year after the retirement of his great rival and friend, the Malaysian star Lee Chong Wei.
The duo reigned over badminton for more than a decade and have only relinquished that hold in recent years as their powers waned.
Lin, who had something of a “bad boy” reputation during his younger days and has several tattoos — unusual for Chinese athletes — ends with 666 singles wins and a glut of medals.
“My family, coaches, team-mates and fans have accompanied me through many peaks and difficult troughs,” he said in a post on China’s Weibo that quickly went viral.
“Every forceful jump was a desire for victory. I have dedicated everything to this sport I love.”
Lee called his nemesis Lin “my greatest opponent”. “Please believe that the laughter, tears and all the promises are unforgettable diary entries,” the 37-year-old Lee wrote on Weibo.
As well as the Olympic golds, Lin was also a five-time world champion and long-time world number one. He earned the nickname “Super Dan” at the peak of his career.
However, the left-hander’s career has tailed off in recent years as age and injuries took their toll. Just last year he rebuffed claims that he was about to retire following a series of first-round exits at tournaments.
Lin always said he was determined to reach the Tokyo Olympics, but his ranking of 19 in the world and the postponement of the Games made that dream unlikely.
Lin said on Saturday his body would not allow him to plough on in the unlikely pursuit of a third Games gold. “Rather than simply pursuing rankings as I did when I was younger, in these years, I have been wanting to challenge the physical limits of an ‘old’ athlete and practise the sporting spirit that I will never give up. (But) my physical abilities and pain no longer allow me to fight alongside my team-mates.”