World no.2 in BWF rankings Kento Momota of Japan will miss his Rio Olympic qualification berth for reasons not related to badminton. A recent India Open champion and singles bronze medalist at World Championships in Jakarta last August, Momota has admitted to gambling at an illegal Casino in Tokyo in May 2015. Illegitimate gambling is a cognizable offence in Japan and Japanese Badminton Association has announced that the nation could not be represented by Momota, against whom legal action was still pending. In the other Rio-Olympics related news, a 15-year old Canadian girl Penny Oleksiak was a surprise entrant to swimming in three categories after her stellar performance during the ongoing Canadian swimming trials at Toronto.
For the past one year, Japanese badminton star Kento Momota has made amazing strides and as per the latest official BWF standings, he reached the no.2 spot behind Chen Long of China. Lately, Momota had been touted as a strong challenger to Chinese stars Chen Long and Lin Dan as also to Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei for the gold medal race. While his badminton credentials are impeccable, Momota was shocked to hear that Nippon Badminton Association would not nominate him to represent Japan at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Ironically, the game of badminton has nothing to do with Momota’s almost certain disqualification. The 21-year old Japanese star was found to be inside an illegal Tokyo casino, when police launched a raid at the premises in May 2015. During the enquiries, Momota admitted that he had been involved in gambling that Japanese law considered illegal. The judgment on the case is yet to come but legal provisions in Japan can send illegal gamblers to three years in prison beside monetary punishments. Badminton Association secretary-general Kinji Zeniya has announced that it might not be possible to nominate Momota to compete at the 2016 Olympics Games. Besides Momota, world no.64 Kenichi Tago was another Japanese badminton player, who also admitted to participating in illegal gambling.