Japan team to miss Thailand tournaments after Momota tests positive


FILE PHOTO: 2019 Badminton World Championships - St. Jakobshalle Basel, Basel, Switzerland - August 25, 2019 Japan's Kento Momota celebrates winning his men's singles final against Denmark's Anders Antonsen REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/File Photo

(Reuters) - World number one badminton player Kento Momota has tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the withdrawal of all Japan's players from this month's tournaments in Thailand, the Badminton World Federation said on Sunday.

Momota, 26, was looking to make his international comeback in Bangkok after almost a year out following a car crash that left him with serious injuries.

The two-time reigning world champion tested positive after undergoing a mandatory COVID-19 test at Narita Airport ahead of the Japan team's departure for Thailand.

"Nippon Badminton Association (NBA) has subsequently withdrawn all its singles and doubles players from the YONEX Thailand Open (12-17 January 2021) and TOYOTA Thailand Open (19-24 January 2021)," the BWF said in a statement.

The absence of the Japanese contingent further affects the quality of the field at the two Thailand Opens, with Chinese players already skipping the tournaments due to COVID-19 concerns.

The events are the last two qualifying opportunities for the World Tour Finals to be held from Jan. 27-31.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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