21-year-old shuttler Kento Momota of Japan saw his hopes of participation at Rio 2016 dashed after he was caught betting at an illegal casino in his home country. The World No. 2, who has been in strong form, was not the only one apprehended. Teammate Kenichi Tago was more severely reprimanded, pulled off the squad for an “indefinite period of time.”
Following the revelations earlier this week, Kinji Zeniya, head of Badminton Japan, vowed publicly to take action against both offenders.
Gambling is illegal in Japan, and offenders can face jail terms of upto 5 years if they are found guilty.
Momota’s absence will be a signifiacnt blow to Japan’s hopes at the 2016 Olympics; after winning his first ever Super Series title in Dubai last year – the first Japanese player to do so, Momota won top honours at the India Open Super Series earlier this month.
He will not face a jail term, but will be disbarred from participating in the Olympic Games, with Kinji saying the gravity of the punishment was necessary to “understand the seriousness of the situation.”
While Momoto gambled close to US $5000 in casinos, Tago was found guilty of placing illegal bets; sports betting in Japan is legal only for horse racing and bicycle racing discipline keirin.
Given Tago’s ‘indefinite absence’ from the Japanese badminton roster, it is still possible for Momota to return to the game. The 2020 Olympic Games are due to be held in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, and it is not sure if six-time champion Tago will be able to participate.
The Olympic Games commence on the 5th of August.Published 10 Apr 2016, 21:29 IST