HONG KONG AIMS to eclipse its mainland counterparts at the 47th World Table Tennis Championships, which open today in Paris, France. China have long been the dominant force in this sport, and swept all the gold medals in individual events at the last two World Championships in Eindhoven, Holland in 1999 and Osaka, Japan in 2001. But the superpower was denied all three doubles golds at the 2002 Busan Asian Games when underdogs Hong Kong took the mixed, and South Korea the men's and women's titles. It was the first time Hong Kong has won a table tennis gold medal at the Asian Games competition. Hong Kong's Cheung Yuk and Tie Yana now have a real chance to repeat that incredible performance on a world stage and bring the territory some much-needed glory and reason to celebrate. The event is going ahead despite the Sars issue. Hong Kong's senior badmin-ton team was disappointed when this month's World Championships in Birming-ham, England were postponed because of fears of the killer bug spreading. Such concerns have not stopped the French public from buying tickets for the event, held every two years. It has proved hugely popular with nearly all 80,000 seats for the seven days of competition sold in advance. Seats for Sunday's final sold out last Wednesday. There are 64 seeded players in the main draw of each singles field with no more than seven allowed per country. In doubles there will be 32 pairs in the main draw. All singles matches will be the best of seven games. Although China is well represented in the men's world rankings, the world number one is actually a European national, Tino Boll of Germany. China's Ma Lin is ranked very closely behind him in second place. Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the recently crowned European champion, is third with China's reigning World Champion Wang Liqin fourth. In the women's world rankings Chinese players fill the top three slots with number one Zhang Yining followed by Olympic Champion Wang Nan and Niu Jianfeng.