Kuala Lumpur: In April 2016, just a few months before the Rio Olympics, two of Japan’s best men’s singles players, Kento Momota and Kenichi Tago, received a suspension from Nippon Badminton Association (NBA) after they were found to gamble at an illegal casino in Japan.
The suspension for current World No. 1 Momota was lifted on May 15, 2017, and he is now the best men’s singles in the world, while for Tago, after four-and-a-half years into his punishment, he finally saw his suspension lifted last Sunday.
After NBA announced that Kenichi Tago was banned indefinitely in 2016, Tago moved to Malaysia in 2017 and was serving as a player and coach at the Petaling Badminton Club.
He then started his badminton academy called TAGO Academy in April 2019.
“I like Malaysia. This is the place that gave me a chance to bounce back,” said Tago in an interview with StarSport in September 2018.
“If I still stayed in Japan, it would be very difficult for me to even find a job after being banned. In Malaysia, I can continue participating in badminton, that’s why I love to live here for such a long time,” added Tago.
Tago played an important role in helping Japan win its first Thomas Cup in 2014. He defeated Chen Long 21-13, 21-11 in the semi-final, allowing Japan to sweep China 3-0 to set up a final encounter with Malaysia.
Currently, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Tago has returned to Japan and his TAGO Academy was closed temporarily until the situation improved.