KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 – World No.1, Kento Momota was tested positive at the Narita Airport which led  Japan to withdrawing its entire team from the Thailand Open Badminton Championship later this month.
The 26-year-old won the All-Japan title last week and the Yonex Thailand Open from Jan 12-17 was to have been his first international tournament after winning the Malaysian Masters in January last year.
It is a tournament Momota will not forget for the rest of his life as hours later the van taking him to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) crashed.
The van driver was killed while Momota was severely injured when his eye socket was fractured and needed surgery.
Momota is Japan’s hope for the men’s singles gold medal in this year’s Tokyo Olympics rescheduled to August this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Japanse ace was also a medal prospect at the 2016 Rio Olympics but he never got to step into Brazil when the All-Nippon Badminton Association slapped an indefinite ban on the player for gross indiscipline when he was found guilty of gambling at an illegal casino in Japan.
As a precaution against the deadly virus, the Nippon Badminton Association decided to withdraw the other 22 players from the tournaments in Thailand. The other tournament in the ‘Asian Leg Bubble’ is the Toyota Thailand Open from Jan 19-24.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian team to the two tournaments in Thailand will leave for Bangkok on Monday without the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director, Wong Choong Hann.
Choong Hann was tested positive for the virus and will be staying back in quarantine while the rest of the 39-strong squad will proceed after testing negative for the mandatory pre-tournament swab test.
“Disappointed yes. However, I believe the team is in good hands and well prepared for the Thailand tournaments. We have done the best in our preparations for the tournaments,” said Choong Hann when contacted.

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