China has withdrawn its badminton players from this week's Japan Open and a Japanese cycling team has been kicked out of a race in China amid a worsening political crisis over disputed islands.
Yoshio Sekine, vice-chairman of the Japan Badminton Association, confirmed on Sept. 18 that the players from China had pulled out of the tournament.
"Chinese athletes cancelled their appearance in this tournament, which is unfortunate," he said at a Japan Open news conference, without discussing the motives for their withdrawal.
"However, there are still a lot of good athletes in this tournament and I am sure they will put on a good performance."
Another official at the event said that while he had not heard any specific reason for their absence "some sort of political reason could be suspected."
A long-standing dispute over an uninhabited group of islands in the East China Sea -- known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China -- took a fresh twist on Sept. 18 after two Japanese activists landed on one of the islands.