Hong Kong lost the group one relegation battle to Japan at the Sudirman Cup world team championships last night - but they might not be demoted to group two at the next world team event. The Japanese clinched a 3-1 victory in the play-off at Guangzhou Gymnasium, with victories in the men's doubles and singles, and women's doubles. Hong Kong's only point was collected by Yip Pui-yin when she defeated Mayu Sekiya in straight games 21-7, 21-16 in the women's singles. 'We were told the group system will be abolished at the next Sudirman Cup,' said Hong Kong team coach Chan Chi-choi last night. 'In future, all participating teams will go into one single pool before a draw is made with the top teams as seedings. A decision on the new playing format will be made by the World Badminton Federation in the next two days.' The present system allows only the eight teams in group one to compete for the title, while other teams have to go through promotion from group two to four before they reach group one. Hong Kong won the promotion to group one in 2003 when they finished first in group two in Eindhoven and have since made three appearances in group one at the biennial event. But drawn against world powerhouses South Korea, Malaysia and Denmark in group one A, Hong Kong lost all three group matches and had to face group one B bottom team Japan in the relegation battle. 'Our overall performance was not too bad, but the group stage was a tough draw,' said the coach. 'Against Japan in the play-off, we expected to take at least one point in the two men's events, but failed to do so.' In the best-of-five play-off, Japan got off to a perfect start in the men's doubles when Kenta Kazuno and Kenichi Hayakawa beat Hong Kong's Hui Wai-ho and Albertus Njoto 2-0, and although Yip levelled the overall score to one-all in the following women's singles, Chan Yan-kit then lost to Sho Sasaki in the men's singles 22-20, 21-15. In the women's doubles, Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsuna beat Hong Kong's Chen Wang and Zhou Mi 2-0. In the other elite group tie of the evening, a Denmark side weakened by the loss of its two best shuttlers squeezed past England 3-2.