Paddlers will retain Olympic status, China official insists

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 12:00am

A senior mainland sports official yesterday rejected speculation that table tennis was in danger of losing its Olympic status because of China's continuing dominance.

Mainland media has reported that, because of China's grip on the game, it could face the axe if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has to pick one sport to jettison for the 2020 Games.

'This is only irresponsible speculation. I have never heard anything on this from the International Olympic Committee or the International Table Tennis Federation,' said Cai Zhenhua, the new chairman of the Asian Table Tennis Union.

'Many countries need to work hard if they want to reach the same standard as China... one of my major working areas as the new chairman is to develop table tennis at all levels in order to close the gap between China and the rest.'

Mainland players have dominated Olympic table tennis since it was introduced in 1988, making a sweep of all four gold medals in Beijing.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Lin Ling and Zhang Rui will face a tough task in the women's doubles third round at the Asian Championships as they take on Wu Yang and Fan Ying of China today. Lin and Zhang beat an Indian pair 3-0 yesterday. Hong Kong's Jiang Huajun and Tie Yana look likely to beat India's Mouma Das and Poulomi Ghatak. In the mixed doubles, all three Hong Kong combinations went out yesterday.