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Japan medal hopeful likely to miss Olympics over gambling

Europe
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Tokyo (dpa) - A top Japanese badminton player apologized Friday for having gambled at an illegal casino as he is likely to lose his chances of playing at this year‘s Olympics.

"I am sorry to have caused this kind of trouble," Kento Momota, who has secured a spot for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, told a news conference with a deep bow. "I deeply regret my rash behaviour."

Momota said he had gambled six times at a casino in Tokyo, which was raided by police in April and May and has since closed.

The 21-year-old badminton player, who is ranked second in the world rankings, became the first Japanese man to win a medal in a world badminton championships singles competition when he took bronze in Jakarta in August.

Nippon Badminton Association secretary general Kinji Zeniya told reporters Thursday it would be "unable to nominate" Momota to compete at the Olympics this year.

Momota‘s teammate Kenichi Tago, who lost in the first round in the 2012 London Games, also apologized for having gambled at the same casino.

Tago visited the venue about 10 times a month between October 2014 and March 2015, an official of his team Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp told the news conference.

"Regardless of the amount of money (the two spent), being engaged even once is a serious breach of code," Zeniya said. "We‘re looking for players to be role models for children, so we‘ll judge on that scale."

The association will hold a board meeting Sunday to decide on the penalties for the pair.

In Japan, people found guilty of gambling can be give up to three years in prison.

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