World No.1 badminton player Momota tests positive for COVID-19

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Japan's Kento Momota hits a return during the men's singles final against Denmark's Viktor Axelsen at Malaysia Masters 2020 badminton tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Jan. 12, 2020. (Xinhua/Chong Voon Chung)

Kento Momota, the world's top-ranked men's badminton player, has tested positive for COVID-19, causing the Japanese national team to cancel its trip to play the Thailand Open.

The two-time reigning world champion, one of Japan's best gold hopefuls at this year's Olympics, returned a positive test result before flying to Bangkok at Tokyo's Narita International Airport with the Japanese team, Japan's state broadcaster NHK reported.

NHK added that the 26-year-old Momota joined his teammates at the Japanese national training center on Saturday after spending the new year's holiday at his hometown in southwest Japan's Kagawa Prefecture.

The whole Japanese national team has canceled its flight to Bangkok after Momota's positive result was confirmed, the NHK said.

The Thailand Open is due to kick off on January 12, and Momota had been drawn to face local star Khosit Phetpardab.

The tournament, running from January 12-17, is one of the three premier events to be held in three consecutive weeks in Bangkok. Momota was also expected to play the January 19-24 Thailand Open and the BWF World Tour Finals 2020 from January 27-31.

Just a year ago, Momota, who will be playing his first Olympic Games this summer, suffered lacerations to his face, bruises to his entire body and was later diagnosed with a broken right eye socket in a traffic accident just hours after he won the Malaysia Masters.

He played his first competitive tournament last week in winning the Japanese national championships.

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