The rule preventing those over the age of 21 who have switched countries from playing at World Cup events and the world championships received a mixed response from mainland paddlers yesterday. The rule was voted on on Friday and will take effect from September 1. Many mainland players who have retired from the national team are playing for various countries around the world and the International Table Tennis Federation (ITF) felt this trend was blocking the development of junior players in those countries. Many players at the world team championships in Guangzhou this week are examples of former mainlanders who now ply their trade under a different flag. Those already doing so will not be affected by the ruling. Barcelona Olympic Games silver medallist Gao Jun, who is representing the US at this tournament at the age of 39, said she could not understand the new rule, adding it would, in fact, hamper the development of the sport in many countries. 'We have been training from a very young age and after we retire from the national team, there is an opportunity for us to make a decent living playing overseas,' said Gao, who left the China national team after helping them win a women's team gold medal at the 1993 world championships. 'And at the same time our arrival can also help raise the standard of the sport in these new countries. 'Both parties gain through this exchange and I see no reason why the international body has to impose a ban on this.' Gao left China at the age of 24 and is still a frequent player at world-class events. Li Ching, a former China national team member who moved to Hong Kong in the past decade, also dismissed the new rule. 'The new rule will not affect me, but I want to say these are just little tricks by officials who always try to come up with new initiatives to justify their positions,' he said. Li and his partner, Ko Lai-chak, also from the mainland, won Hong Kong's second-ever Olympic medal in any sport when they bagged a silver in the men's doubles at the 2004 Athens Games. Liu Guodong, a former mainland player who is now coach of Singapore's women's team, agreed with the ban, but added Singapore could still bring in junior players to represent the city-state. Singapore has employed an entire squad of players from China to help the women's team reach the final in Guangzhou. Another former mainland player, Li Jiao, now playing for the Netherlands, said the ban was necessary. 'There are too many Chinese players in Europe and a certain degree of control [on the numbers] is required,' she said. 'I hope Chinese people who are already overseas can help improve the standards in their adopted countries.' China, the major supplier of players worldwide, agreed to the ban, which was opposed by only two countries - Hong Kong and New Zealand. Yang Shuan, ITTF executive vice-president and a member of the committee which proposed the ban, said there should be a 'balanced' development of players in each country for the sake of long-term development of the sport. His view was shared by China's national team men's coach, Liu Guoliang, who said some countries might suffer from the ban at first but, once their own young players start coming through the ranks with no Chinese players blocking their way, they should be able to mount a serious challenge on the international stage.