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Third Japanese badminton player admits to entering casino

TAGs: Japan, Jasmine Solana, Kenichi Tago, Kento Momota, Kinji Zeniya

Another member of the Japan national team has come clean about entering a casino, local media reported.

Third Japanese badminton player admits to entering casinoLast week, ace badminton player Kento Momota lost his spot at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics after he and his teammate Kenichi Tago admitted to gambling at a casino. Now, the Nippon Badminton Association said a third member of the badminton team has confessed to entering a casino.

According to the Japan Times, the player—whose name has been withheld—told the association he went to a casino twice last year, but did not wager. In a hearing, the player said “he attended twice but left after about 20 minutes, while asserting he did not gamble.”

Association chief executive Kinji Zeniya said the third player will also be given “some kind of discipline” like Momota and Tago because he is also a member of the national team.

Gambling, except for horse racing and “keirin” bicycle racing, is still considered illegal in Japan, and those who were found guilty of gambling charges could face a maximum jail time of five years.

The news of Momota and Tago’s involvement in an underground casino came while the country is still reeling from reports of betting among pro baseball players, prompting the badminton association to conduct a probe into its own players and staff. The association said it has investigated 106 players and staff since 2014 on whether they went to casinos.

Momota, who ranked second among world badminton players, was Japan’s hope for a singles medal in the Olympics this coming August, but that hope was dashed when he confessed that he went with Tago to a baccarat casino in Tokyo six times through January 2015. The 21-year-old was given an indefinite suspension—despite Tago’s tearful appeal—which meant that he wouldn’t be able to join the Japanese team in time for the Olympics.

Tago, on the other hand, was struck off the association’s registry. The 26-year-old also lost his job at Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp (NTTE).

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