Tokyo: Six-time Japan national champion and the 2010 All England runner-up Kenichi Tago, who lost about 10 million yen in over 60 visits to illegal casinos in Tokyo and Yokohama from October 2014 to January 2016, is looking to resume his badminton career overseas after he received indefinite suspension by the Nippon Badminton Association.
“I can only blame myself for the punishment. But I also realized badminton is my passion, and I can still do more on the badminton court,” said the 26-year-old Tago.
“I’m not working currently and I’m thinking to go abroad to find some, because I need to find a job to make a living.”
At Kenichi Tago’s invitation, former World No. 2 Kento Momota also received indefinite suspension by the association due to the gambling scandal. Momota who was expected to win a medal for Japan at the Rio Olympics, was also axed from Japan’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics team.
“I take spoiling his badminton career more seriously than myself getting penalized,” said Tago, who was fired by his employer NTT East while Momota received a 30-day suspension.
Kenichi Tago’s career started going downhill once he and Kento Momota helped Japan to win their first ever Thomas Cup champion in 2014.
“It was inevitable I wasn’t getting results, I wasn’t hitting shuttles seriously enough. I have to have a real go to win matches,” he said. “I got into a good company, there was an environment where I could take badminton for granted and there was the prize money too. I was leading a pampered life.”
“I stopped gambling last winter after realizing I was going nowhere. The results in badminton weren’t coming along and I thought it (gambling) would keep dragging on. It was purely for sporting reasons, and then the report came out.”
Tago admitted what he did was against the rules, but he demanded more clarification from Nippon Badminton Association about the future of his badminton career.
“I have regretted the things I’ve done, but I would like more clarification such as how much activity I can do in Japan, and so far, I haven’t received any clear definition that outlines the punishment,” added Tago.