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Japan withdraw from Thailand Open after Momota contracts Covid-19

Badminton's world No. 1 Kento Momota tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday, prompting the withdrawal of all Japan's players from this month's Thailand Open, Japan's Badminton Association said.

"Momota has tested positive for the coronavirus, and the association has decided not to send any players, including Momota, to Thailand," an association official told AFP.

Momota was looking to make his international comeback in Bangkok after almost a year out following a car crash that left him with serious injuries.

National broadcaster NHK said the 26-year-old tested positive at Narita airport ahead of the Japan team's departure for Thailand. An association official confirmed that none of the other 22 Japan players tested positive, but said the entire team would withdraw nonetheless.

Malaysia's coaching director Wong Choong Hann will also not travel to Bangkok after testing positive for Covid-19. But the rest of the Malaysian team, who tested negative, will head to the Thai capital.

The rescheduled Thailand Open, which will take place from Jan 12-17, is one of three tournaments taking place in the country this month, following disruptions to the badminton world tour schedule last year.

The absence of the Japanese contingent further affects the quality of the field in Thailand, with Chinese players already skipping the tournaments due to Covid-19 concerns. - AFP, REUTERS

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