China table tennis issues apology to fans after three stars pull out of China Open unexpectedly
Governing body issues statement reprimanding players and apologising to the national team’s fans
Olympic champions Ma Long and Xu Xin and Fan Zhendong, the world’s top three table tennis players, were reprimanded by the sport’s governing authorities for pulling out of the China Open but maintain the support of their fans.
The Chinese Table Tennis team issued an apology letter on Saturday, saying the three players, “forfeited their matches on impulse without fully understanding the details of the modifications that will be made to the management of the team.”
On Friday night, Ma, Xu and Fan, along with their coaches Qin Zhijian and Ma Lin, did not turn up for their China Open men’s singles second round matches in Chengdu in an apparent protest at the sudden departure of their head coach Liu Guoliang, who was removed from the job early this week to become one of 26 Chinese table tennis vice chairmen.
“With regards to the impact brought by this incident, we deeply realise the seriousness of this fault, resulting in negative social impact, letting down the love and understanding that the public have for the Chinese table tennis national team, and damaging the team’s positive social image of upholding patriotism, collectivism, and striving to fight for the glory of the country,” the letter continues.
All three players and the two coaches published the letter on their Weibo accounts as the team “sincerely accepted the criticism from all sectors of society, and apologised to all fans and spectators”. The Chinese table tennis national team said it would learn a lesson, and deeply reflect on the incident.