Bid to bar players from switching nationalities A proposal to ban players from switching nationalities in their search for glory will stunt 'human development', Tony Yue Kwok-leung, chairman of the Hong Kong Table Tennis Association, warned last night. Yue said if the International Table Tennis Federation prohibited players aged 21 years and over from defecting to another flag, Hong Kong would be the first to suffer. And he also warned of a gradual erosion of players' liberties if the bill - put forward by the Swiss National Association - is passed during a vote by ITTF council members at the World Table Tennis Championships in Guangzhou next month. Many of Hong Kong's leading players are imports from the mainland with prime examples being the men's doubles silver medallists at the Athens Olympics, Li Ching and Ko Lai-chak. 'People move from one country to another for many reasons, among them economic, family ties, social and professional,' Yue said. 'This is part of globalisation and why should we stop that? This movement of people should be encouraged in terms of human development.' The Swiss proposal seeks to stop the flood of established talent to small nations, and argues their arrival from powerhouse nations such as China stunts the development of home-grown talent. ITTF president Adham Sharara confirmed the bill would be voted upon at the World Championships during his visit to Guangzhou. 'According to the motion, any player above 21 years of age who has registered as a professional paddler with his or her native country, would not then be eligible to represent their adopted country in international competition,' he told the China Sports Daily. If the proposal is adopted, Hong Kong will suffer a devastating blow to its medal hopes in the discipline. It is understood the Hong Kong association is looking for special IOC dispensation for two players - Tie Yana and Jiang Huajun - so they can compete at the Beijing Olympics. Athens silver medallists Li and Ko were among six table tennis players who needed special dispensation from the IOC to take part inthose Games because they didn't then hold Hong Kong SAR passports. 'I haven't seen the proposed bill yet and I don't know the motive behind such a move. But my first reaction is that this is something which goes totally against world trends,' said Yue. Scores of frustrated mainland table tennis players have escaped the cutthroat competition for Olympic and other elite tournament places by giving up their Chinese passports. Ten of the top 20 players listed in the ITTF women's world rankings are Chinese paddlers holding non-Chinese passports. As well as hampering the nurturing of home-grown players, some nations argue the exodus puts the mainlanders' adopted countries at an unfair advantage. But the ITTF denied the law was directed at glory-hunting mainlanders, many of whom are labelled traitors for defecting. The mainland is the world's biggest exporter of ping-pong talent, and a former champion told the Post that China's table tennis community would feel the pinch if the law was adopted. 'It would affect the livelihood of many overseas Chinese players,' said the now retired Jiang Jialiang, a double world men's singles champion.