Momota sidelined until May after facial operation

World number one Momota Kento expected to be out for three months after undergoing surgery to repair an eye socket fracture which was causing double vision

By Rory Jiwani ·

Badminton world number one Momota Kento has suffered a major setback in his preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The Japanese star was lucky to escape with minor injuries from a car crash in the Malaysia capital Kuala Lumpur last month in which the driver was killed.

The left-hander went to a national team training camp on Monday (3 February) with a view to defending his All England Open title next month.

But, according to his club NTT East, Momota complained of discomfort and had to depart on Wednesday.

A hospital assessment on Friday saw him diagnosed with an orbital floor fracture, also known as an eye socket fracture, next to his right eye.

The 25-year-old underwent surgery on Saturday and is expected to need three months recovery time.

That would give him little more than two months to regain match fitness ahead of what would be his Olympic debut on home soil.

Japan head coach Park Joo Bong said: "This has really taken me by surprise. The future will be determined by his progress after surgery. I think it will be a matter of course, but I want him to focus on his recovery without rushing it."

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The Japanese has been the outstanding player in the world for the past two years.

He enjoyed a spectacular 2019, winning a record 11 titles in a season including a flawless defence of his world title.

Momota made the perfect start to the New Year, dropping just one game on his way to winning the Malaysia Masters.

But on the way to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the vehicle carrying him and three fellow passengers crashed into the back on a truck.

All four passengers sustained non-life threatening injuries with Momota soon cleared to return to training.

He was back with the national team this week, but NHK reported that he had experienced problems at the training get-together including double vision.

His expected absence of three months means he will certainly miss the first World Tour Super 1000 event of the year, the All England Open, and the Super 750 Malaysia Open at the start of April.

Momota could return for the Thomas & Uber Cup, badminton's World Team Championships, in Aarhus, Denmark, in the middle of May.

A more realistic target may be the Super 500 Thailand Open in early June.

The Tokyo 2020 tournament begins on 25 July, just a day after the Opening Ceremony.