PETALING JAYA: After a three-and-half month hiatus, Japan’s badminton team will be back in business.
They will resume centralised training on July 1, marking the first time the team are assembled since they last competed at the All-England in mid-March.
According to reports in Japan, the men and women’s teams will train in separate locations to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection.
The men will be based in Takaoka City in Toyama prefecture while the women will train in Noshiro City, in Akita prefecture.
The resumption will certainly come as a huge relief for head coach Park Joo-bong, who is running out of time ahead of the badminton season which will resume in September.
While the Tokyo Olympics qualification will not start until next January, the Japan Badminton Association are set to make the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark, from Oct 3-11 their top priority.
They are aiming to reclaim the Thomas Cup they last won in New Delhi 2014 and defend the Uber Cup crown won in Bangkok two years ago.
The shuttlers were slated to resume training on June 19, but it didn’t materialise because it was deemed not safe then.
This was despite Japan’s nationwide lockdown had been lifted since May 25.
Meanwhile, mixed doubles coach Jeremy Gan is looking forward to welcoming back his charges and world No. 5 Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino.
“I have not seen them (Watanabe and Higashino) since the All-England, there’s some work to be done, ” said Jeremy, a former Malaysian international.
“But it shouldn’t be much of a problem as like the rest of the players, they have resumed training with their respective clubs a few weeks ago. Yuta and Arisa are with the Nihon Unisys team.”
The July 1 training session will also be world No. 1 Kento Momota’s first time reporting back for national duty in four months.
The two-time world champion complained of double vision on the first day of training on Feb 3 after recovering from minor injuries sustained in a fatal road accident in Malaysia on Jan 13.
The incident happened while he was on his way to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, hours after winning the Malaysian Masters.
Momota had to undergo surgery to fix an orbital floor fracture on his right eye.
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