Both the Japanese media and the Badminton World Federation (BWF) reported early this evening that Japanese star player Kento Momota (pictured top) had tested positive for Covid-19. Momota’s test was a mandatory PCR test, administered at Narita Airport to all passengers departing for Thailand.
According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, all other Japanese players and support staff travelling to Thailand for the Yonex Thailand Open – scheduled to start on January 12th – tested negative for the novel coronavirus; however, the NBA has already notified the BWF and the Badminton Association of Thailand (BAT) that the entire Japanese team would be cancelling its trip to Bangkok.
A BWF press release states that they and the BAT will fill up spots left vacant in the draws by the Japanese withdrawal, using a list of reserve players who are already scheduled to arrive by January 4th for the ‘Asian Leg Bubble’. According to the BWF, the Japanese withdrawal applies to both the Yonex Thailand Open and to the Toyota Thailand Open, which is set to run from January 19th to 24th.
While Japan and Thailand are among the many nations who have hit all-time highs in the last couple of weeks in new daily counts of confirmed Covid-19 cases, Thailand still has one of the lowest per capita infection rates on the planet. The BWF stated that the two Thailand Opens will go ahead as planned, as will the 2020 World Tour Finals, scheduled for January 27th to 31st.