Hong Kong badminton head coach Tim He Yiming warned his charges that Covid-19 can affect anybody as the pandemic hit the badminton world hard ahead of the restart of the world tour with three major tournaments in Bangkok. And so it is being proven. The seven-member Hong Kong team, headed by world No 8 Angus Ng Ka-long, arrived in the Thailand capital on Sunday under stringent health measures, and were immediately tested at the airport upon their arrival before being sent straight to their hotel rooms before a second test on Wednesday. They were already required to show results from tests completed 72 hours before their departure from Hong Kong for their first international tournament in 10 months since the All England Open in March. Ng Ka-long fitness training in his hotel room in Bangkok pic.twitter.com/ISWs4uwO9M — Kin-wa Chan (@Kinwachan1024) January 5, 2021 “None of the Hong Kong team members tested positive upon arrival but the atmosphere in Bangkok is very tense after a number of other team members were forced to withdraw from the tournaments due to Covid-19,” said the coach. “They are now waiting for another round of testing before being allowed to leave their hotel rooms. We have brought a fitness coach with the team so he can help the players conduct physical training during their quarantine period.” Badminton players return to action in Bangkok amid Covid-19 concerns World No 1 Kento Momota of Japan was, however, stopped from leaving Tokyo after failing a mandatory test at Narita Airport en route to Bangkok on Sunday. The entire Japanese team, including their top two women’s singles players, Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi, were forced to withdraw from the Bangkok tournaments. World No 1 Kento Momota tests positive for Covid-19 In Indonesia, men’s doubles world No 1 player Kevin Sukamuljo also tested positive and had to pull out while Wong Choong Hann, coaching director of the Badminton Association of Malaysia, was another victim, after testing positive a day before the national team departed for Bangkok. Both Momota, who planned to play his first international tournament since a car accident in early 2020, and Sukamuljo were top seeds of their respective draws. Ng Ka-long training in his hotel room in Bangkok pic.twitter.com/A0WLZjvDEZ — Kin-wa Chan (@Kinwachan1024) January 5, 2021 Coach He expressed sympathy for Momota. The Japanese player is the hot favourite for Tokyo Olympics gold. “I have repeatedly reminded the players that the virus can infect anybody if you don’t take good care of your hygiene,” he said. “Momota’s case is a warning to all the players. If you got infected, you will lose your chance of playing and all your effort over the period will be in vain.” Last week, Chinese authorities withdrew their entire team for Bangkok after a resurgence of Covid-19 cases in the Southeast Asian nation. The Badminton World Federation is using the two Bangkok tournaments, both offering a lucrative US$1 million total prize money, to wrap up a season that has been badly hampered by the global pandemic outbreak. There has been only one tournament held, in Denmark in October, since the World Tour was suspended in March following the completion of the All England Open in Birmingham. The two Bangkok opens will be followed by the World Tour finals, which will feature the top eight players or pairs in all five categories. Hong Kong’s Ng stands a good chance of reaching the US$1.5 million finals if he can do well in both Thailand tournaments.