World number one badminton player Kento Momota has tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the withdrawal of all Japan's players from this month's tournaments in Thailand, the Badminton World Federation said on Sunday.
Momota, 26, was looking to make his international comeback in Bangkok after almost a year out following a car crash that left him with serious injuries.
The two-time reigning world champion tested positive after undergoing a mandatory COVID-19 test at Narita Airport ahead of the Japan team's departure for Thailand.
"Nippon Badminton Association (NBA) has subsequently withdrawn all its singles and doubles players from the YONEX Thailand Open (12-17 January 2021) and TOYOTA Thailand Open (19-24 January 2021)," the BWF said in a statement.
The absence of the Japanese contingent further affects the quality of the field at the two Thailand Opens, with Chinese players already skipping the tournaments due to COVID-19 concerns.
The events are the last two qualifying opportunities for the World Tour Finals to be held from January 27-31.
Indian Women's Hockey team leaves for Argentina tour
The Indian Women's Hockey Team on Sunday left from Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport for Argentina. This tour will be the national side's first one after almost a year.
Hockey India also named the 25-member Indian Women's Hockey squad for the tour. The Indian team is scheduled to play two matches against Argentina (Junior Women) on January 17 and 19, two matches against Argentina B on January 22 and 24 and four matches against Argentina on January 26, 28, 30, and 31.
Hockey India and the host National Association have created a bio bubble in Argentina for both the Argentine Women's Team and the Indian Women's Team. The Indian Women's Team will be staying in a hotel where a provision to have separate rooms/halls for the team for all the meals, team meetings, sessions etc have been made.
"It feels amazing to be touring again. We have worked very hard on our game in the last few months and the time has come for us to execute our skills in an international match. Playing in international matches is going to be a bit different this time, since we will be in a bio bubble, however, the team is excited to be back on the field in the best possible manner at the moment," Indian Women's Hockey team captain Rani said in a statement.
The entire Indian contingent underwent a Covid-19 RT-PCR Test 72 hours prior to their departure from New Delhi. Though there is no requirement of quarantine upon arrival in Argentina, the team will still be following all safety and health measures as advised by the respective governments of India and Argentina, Hockey India said in an official release.
The Indian Women's Hockey Team Vice Captain and Goalkeeper Savita thanked Hockey India and SAI for arranging the tour of Argentina.
"We desperately needed to get back into the competitive mode as there's not much time left to go for the Olympics. We have been doing well in practice sessions, but an international match is always the real test for any sportsperson. Therefore, we would like to thank Hockey India and SAI for the efforts they have put in to arrange a tour for us. We are really looking forward to a great tour and hopefully, we start playing to our full potential right from the first match," said Savita.
The 25-member Indian Women's Hockey squad: Rani (Captain), Savita (Vice-Captain), Rajani Etimarpu, Bichu Devi Kharibam, Gurjit Kaur, Deep Grace Ekka, Rashmita Minz, Manpreet Kaur, Reena Khokhar, Salima Tete, Nisha, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Lilima Minz, Neha Goyal, Namita Toppo, Monika, Nikki Pradhan, Vandana Katariya, Navneet Kaur, Navjot Kaur, Jyoti, Udita, Rajwinder Kaur, Lalremsiami, Sharmila Devi.
Manu Bhaker to practice in Bhopal ahead of selection trials at KSSR
Tokyo Olympics hopeful Manu Bhaker on Sunday left for Bhopal to continue her practice at MP State Shooting Academy during the time the capital's Dr. Karni Singh range will be occupied with selection trials for rifle and shotgun shooters.
The 18-year-old pistol ace, a Commonwealth Games and Youth Olympics gold medallist, will train in Bhopal from January 4-10, before reporting for her selection trials here on January 11.
"She has left for Bhopal as she cannot train at the range in Tughlakabad as the selection trials for rifle and shotgun shooters will be held there. And her trails will run from January 11-16, so she left in order to continue her practice," Manu's father, Ram Kishan Bhaker, told PTI.
The champion markswoman had been training without a break for months now and will be attending a camp in New Delhi after the conclusion of the trials.
The camp is expected to run from January 30 to February 26, after six days of quarantine in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the upcoming trials, Manu had been practicing non-stop at the Karni Singh range after attending a full-fledged camp at the same venue, which got over on December 17.
"If she has to succeed at the Tokyo Olympics, she knows she cannot afford to miss a single day's practice, and so the non-stop training," Ram Kishan said of her daughter who competes in 10m and 25m pistol.
Before the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) had resumed its camps after the coronavirus-forced hiatus, Manu had been training at her makeshift range at her home in Haryana.
She had installed an electronic target there in place of an archaic manual machine that was breaking down frequently and hampering her Olympics preparation.
Meanwhile, the core group of Indian shooters for the Tokyo Games will converge in New Delhi on Tuesday for selection trials in rifle, pistol and shotgun events, after which teams for the year's first two ISSF World Cups will be picked.
The selection trails will be conducted by the NRAI at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range in Tughlakabad.
While the trials for shotgun will begin from Tuesday, the ones for rifle and pistol will start a day later.
The country's top shooters are expected to be present at the trials.
"The performances of the shooters in the trials will be taken into consideration while selecting the teams for the first two World Cups, so it is very significant as the Tokyo Olympics are also scheduled this year," an NRAI official said.
The selection trials will end on January 18.
The first World Cup (shotgun) is scheduled in Cairo from February 22 to March 5, with the second one -- Combined World Cup for rifle, pistol and shotgun -- slated to be held in New Delhi from March 18 to 29.
Jockey dies after fall from race horse in Hyderabad
A 25-year-old jockey from Rajasthan died after falling off a horse during a race in Hyderabad on Sunday.
Based on preliminary investigation, a police official said the jockey apparently slipped from the horse and fell but there were no visible injuries.
He was taken to a hospital where doctors declared him brought dead.
The accidental fall was caught on camera at the race club and the footage was being collected, the official said.
The security officer of the club filed a complaint and the jockey’s family and relatives have been informed about the mishap, the police official said adding that a case under section 174 CrPC was registered.