Kento Momota donates 10% of tournament prize money to help fight coronavirus

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Kento Momota donates prize money and masks to Japan's front-line workers fighting COVID-19. (photo: Xinhua)
Kento Momota donates prize money and masks to Japan's front-line workers fighting COVID-19. (photo: Xinhua)

Tokyo: World No. 1 men’s singles player Kento Momota of Japan has donated the prize money he received for winning 11 badminton tournaments in 2019 towards the fund for fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the statement issued by his agent – UDN Sports, Momota has donated 5 million Japanese yen (USD $46,460.00) to front-line workers such as nurses, doctors, and first responders from the Tokyo Medical Association. In addition, Momota also donated 200,000 masks to students and medical staff in Japan.

“I have always been thinking about what can I do to help in these uncertain times? I was hoping to provide some help to medical workers. Therefore, I have made the donations through Tokyo Medical Association. I will continue to work hard and to fulfill my dreams and hopes through badminton,” said Momota.

Even though he made about 55,750,000 Japanese Yen (around USD $500k) in 2019, but he had to turn over 10% of his earning to the Nippon Badminton Association. In spite of that, Momota still generously made the donations from his own pocket.

Both Momota and Akane Yamaguchi (World No. 3 women’s singles player) have set a record for Japanese badminton player who earned the most prize money through international tournaments. The 22-year-old Yamaguchi made a total of 27,410,000 yen (about USD $254,611.49) last season. Compared to Japanese badminton players twenty years ago, top Japanese badminton players could hardly earn 1 million yen/year (USD $9289/year).

Japanese media said that the average annual salary of Japan’s professional baseball player in 2019 was only 39.85 million yen (about USD $370,166) and Momota’s income in 2019 has exceeded this standard.

Nevertheless, Japan’s World No. 4 women’s singles player Nozomi Okuhara was unhappy that all Japanese players had to pay 10% of the prize money they won in international tournaments to Nippon Badminton Association. She took to her social media page three days ago to express her frustration.

“Although the money we made was not as much as tennis, I am happy that the prize money for badminton has increased. However, since we have to pay 10% of our earning to the association, for example, Momota alone would need to pay 5 million yen. Therefore, I think the players have the right to know how the association is going to spend that money. What do you think?” questioned Okuhara.

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