Men’s singles world No 1 Kento Momota was among four people injured in a van crash in Malaysia on Monday which left their driver dead, the country’s badminton federation confirmed on Monday.
Momota was in Kuala Lumpur for the Malaysia Masters Super 500 event where he defeated former world No 1 Viktor Axelsen in the final to continue his remarkable run in the circuit.
But the Japanese star was involved in an accident that proved fatal for the van driver and injured his team, while on their way to the airport. The accident happened in the early hours on a major highway as the group headed for Kuala Lumpur International Airport in a van, official news agency Bernama reported.
While initial reports did not mention the nature of the injuries and the others involved in the accident, Badminton Association of Malaysia confirmed the news in a statement posted on their social media pages.
Here is the full text of the statement issued by BAM, the host federation of the tournament that concluded on Sunday:
Badminton Association of Malaysia is deeply saddened by the accident that occurred this morning.
Van driver, N Bavan passed away while Japan badminton team members — player Kento Momota (multiple laceration wounds over the face and right maxillary sinus and nasal bone fracture), assistant coach, Hirayama Yu (laceration wound over right shin), physio, Morimoto Akifumi (cerebral concussion and closed fracture) and Hawkeye system operator, William Thomas (laceration wound over forehead and lower limbs) — sustained few injuries but are in a stable condition.
BAM is working closely with the Malaysian government and the Putrajaya Hospital to ensure they get the best medical services.
The vehicle crashed into the back of a lorry, which was travelling slowly, and the driver died at the scene, an earlier report had said.
“The victim’s body and all the injured were sent to” hospital in administrative capital Putrajaya, fire and rescue department senior official Norazam Khamis was cited as saying.
Confirming the developments, Badminton World Federation also issued a statement, which said that Momota had already pulled out of the upcoming Indonesia Masters event.
BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund said:
“The BWF can confirm men’s singles world No.1 Kento Momota of Japan was involved in a car accident on Monday morning Kuala Lumpur time. Unfortunately, the driver of the vehicle was killed in the incident. The BWF would like to extend its condolences to the driver’s family.
Thankfully, Kento Momota, two members of the Japanese support staff and a Hawkeye system operator are in a safe and stable condition. Their welfare is our number one concern and I can ensure all is being done to support them at this time.
The BWF would like to thank the Badminton Association of Malaysia and all local emergency services for their swift action.”
Momota, the reigning two-time world champion, is considered the firm favourite to win the gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in July-August.