Tokyo: World No. 4 and 21-year-old men’s singles player Kento Momota of Japan could potentially being banned from competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro if the Nippon Badminton Association confirmed Momota has been a frequent visitor to an illegal casino in Tokyo.
Kento Momota and his teammate Kenichi Tago who were participating in the ongoing Malaysia Open in Shah Alam, have been called back to Tokyo to assist in the illegal casino investigation. Both Momota and Tago have remained silent after their arrival at Narita airport on Thursday morning.
Executive director of the Nippon Badminton Association, Kinji Zeniya said that if the allegation of Kento Momota’s visit to that illegal casino is substantiated, it would “probably be impossible” for Momota to compete at the Rio Olympics, especially when casino gambling is illegal in Japan.
Both Kento Momota and Kenichi Tago were involved in one piece of badminton history in 2014 when they helped Japan won the Thomas Cup for the first time in Japan’s badminton history.
Since winning the 2014 Thomas Cup, Kento Momota has experienced remarkable career breakthrough by winning all four Superseries finals he had reached so far — the 2016 India Open Super Series, and the 2015 Singapore, 2015 Indonesia and 2015 Dubai Superseries Finals.
He also became the first Japanese man to win bronze in the 2015 World Championships in Jakarta.
On the other hand, Kenichi Tago had gone through practically the opposite fate as Momota after 2014 when Tago was booted out of Japan’s national team at the end of 2015 due to dismal performances and indiscipline.