SINGAPORE - It would be foolish to assume that the Olympics badminton men's singles gold is in China's bag, even if Japan's Kento Momota is absent from the quadrennial event come August.
Both China's world No. 1 Chen Long and two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, in town for the OUE Singapore Open, insist that the competition remains stiff with strong challenges coming from other nations.
Said Chen: "There are still countries such as Denmark and Indonesia who have very good players. You can't say that just because one other competitor may not be there that it becomes easy.
"We believe that there will be good results, as long as we prepare well and put in the effort."
Japan's world No. 2 Momota had been heavily tipped to challenge China's dominance at the Olympics, but has been kicked off Japan's Olympic team by the Nippon Badminton Association after admitting to illegal gambling.
He was also withdrawn from this week's Singapore Open, where he was originally pencilled in to defend his men's singles title.
World No. 3 Lin, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion, added: "China has been the most successful team in the history of men's singles at the Olympics, and because of that, it's a great honour for us to be able to represent our country.
"The competition in men's singles is so stiff and it's watched and followed by many. It gives everyone greater impetus to win."
The Chinese duo are set to compete at the Aug 5-21 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.