It’s a no go for Kento

PETALING JAYA: The Badminton World Federation (BWF) and the Badminton Association of Thailand (BAT) must be sweating over how things would pan out with just eight days to go before the Asian leg of the World Tour kicks off.

The organisers of the US$3.5mil (RM14.1mil) three-tournament series, comprising Thailand Opens and the season-ending World Tour Finals from Jan 12-31, suffered a crushing blow following the withdrawal of the Japanese team.

The Nippon Badminton Association (NBA) called off the trip to Bangkok after world No. 1 singles ace Kento Momota tested positive for Covid-19 prior to the team’s departure at Narita Airport yesterday.

It wasn’t the only bad news of the day as the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director Wong Choong Hann, who was due to fly to Bangkok, also contracted the virus after a swab test.

However, the players and officials tested negative and will leave for the Thai capital today.

Upon arrival, players and their entourage will undergo compulsory quarantine prior to the start tournament which is held under a bubble system.

With the huge number of shuttlers and officials expected to arrive today, the big question remains if there are more cases reported over the coming days.

A negative test result does not necessarily mean one doesn’t contract the virus.

It can take days before a new infection shows up on a Covid-19 test as its incubation period could go up to 14 days. However, the players and officials will be tested regularly before and during the tournaments.

BAM secretary Datuk Kenny Goh has played down the possibility of others in the team contracting the virus as they have been practising social distancing and wearing masks during training.

“The players were not in close contact with Choong Hann, they have always maintained their distance and wore masks when they talk to each other, ” explained Kenny.

“Also, the coaches do not stay at the ABM (Academy Badminton Malaysia).

“I think the SOP compliance helps. That could be the reason why the rest returned negative.

“I met Choong Hann just last Wednesday. I got myself tested and was negative too.

“I believe we are doing (observing the SOP) it right.

“Our team will get tested again when they arrive at the airport, so we will see.”

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