SINGAPORE - Seven of the eight reigning badminton world champions will feature at the Singapore Open, as 2018 BWF World Championship men's singles champion and world No. 1 Kento Momota becomes the latest superstar to confirm his participation for the April 9-14 event.
He will face strong competition at the Singapore Indoor Stadium with Olympic champions Lin Dan and Chen Long also in the mix.
The 24-year-old made a remarkable comeback in 2017 after being suspended for a year by the Nippon Badminton Association for visiting an illegal casino to became the first Japanese man to top the world rankings.
The 2015 Singapore Open men's singles champion told Firstpost: "I was immature and foolish. I was told by the Nippon Badminton Association secretary general, Kinji Zeniya, that this sort of frequent gambling was punishable by law in Japan, with a prison sentence of up to three years.
"In view of my services to Japanese badminton, they were willing to refrain from pressing charges if I accepted a one-year ban from international badminton. I readily accepted the compromise solution, and felt I richly deserved it.
"That one year in the wilderness was the darkest period of my life, and I really missed the competition. But I resolved to keep practising and working out to stay fit; vowed that I would come back even stronger than before."
Momota is part of a 29-shuttler contingent heading to Singapore. This includes women's doubles world champions Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara.
Earlier on, China had already announced their 35-man line-up, which includes men's doubles world champions Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen, and mixed doubles world champions Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong.
Reigning world champions in four events slated to compete in S'pore:
• Men's singles (Momota, Japan)
• Men's doubles (Li-Liu, China)
• Women's doubles (Matsumoto-Nagahara, Jpn)
• Mixed doubles (Zheng-Huang, Chn)
The only reigning world champion who will not be here is Spain's women's singles winner Carolina Marin, who tore her right anterior cruciate ligament earlier this year.
The Singapore Open's star-studded field will also see last year's winners returning to defend their titles. These include men's and women's singles champions - Chinese Taipei's Chou Tien-chen and Japan's Sayaka Takahashi respectively - as well as Japan's women's doubles pairing Ayako Sakuramoto and Yukiko Takahata, and Malaysia's mixed doubles duo Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai.
Asian Games women's singles champion Tai Tzu-ying and Olympics women's singles silver medallist P. V. Sindhu will also compete here.
Singapore Open 2019 organising committee spokesman Michael Foo said: "This year's line-up is one that badminton fans will not want to miss. From defending champs to world champs, it has all the makings of an action-packed week.
"Fans have slightly more than a week left to purchase their tickets at early bird rates, so definitely don't let this opportunity slip."
Tickets are available via Sports Hub Tix and APACTix.