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Kento Momota axed over gambling

Japanese World No 2 has been kicked off the badminton team for Rio Games after his visit to an illegal casino

Tokyo: Olympic medal hope Kento Momota has been kicked off Japan’s badminton team for the Olympics this summer for gambling at an illegal casino, officials said yesterday.

Kento Momota apologises for gambling at an illegal casino during a press conference held in Tokyo on Friday. PIC/AP,PTI
Kento Momota apologises for gambling at an illegal casino during a press conference held in Tokyo on Friday. Pic/AP,PTI

The Nippon Badminton Association threw the book at the 21-year-old World No 2, banning him from competition indefinitely, after an emergency meeting to decide the player’s fate.

Team-mate Kenichi Tago, also found guilty of placing illegal bets, was removed from the organisation’s official player list for an indefinite period.

Medal hope at Rio
Momota became the first Japanese man to win a world championship medal with a bronze in Jakarta last August and had been tipped to challenge for the title in Rio. The controversy caused a stir last week, with Japanese badminton chief Kinji Zeniya breaking down in tears on television before resolving to deal harshly with the offenders.

Government ministers were also quick to condemn the players. “It is important to take a resolute stance against players guilty of illegal acts,” Zeniya told reporters, while leaving the door open to a possible Olympic return for Momota at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

He admitted visiting a casino six times and gambling away 500,000 yen (around $4,500). Momota’s absence in Rio will be a major blow to Japan’s medal hopes. People found guilty of gambling in Japan can face jail terms of up to five years.

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