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AFP
July 21, 2021

China table tennis boss says playing areas too small

AFP
July 21, 2021

BEIJING: China’s table tennis chief on Tuesday claimed the “smaller than usual” size of the playing areas may affect players’ performance and safety, in his latest complaints about the Tokyo Olympics.

China have won 28 of the 32 table tennis titles awarded at the Olympics, dominating a sport in a way that has rarely been matched. But the lead-up to the pandemic-delayed Games has thrown up several challenges, from inconsistent form among China’s top players to new rules to stop the coronavirus spreading.

“The whole playing space is smaller than usual... world competitions normally have areas measuring seven by 14 metres... I just measured it at six by 11 metres,” Chinese Table Tennis Association president Liu Guoliang told state broadcaster CCTV. “I’m a little worried about the athletes’ running and safety. It’s quite different from before.”

Players on the team also voiced concerns. “We have been noticing the size of the playing area throughout. Several side serves hit the screen board (at the side of the court) and we were slightly affected,” men’s player Xu Xin told CCTV.

The trending hashtag “Liu Guoliang uses his foot length to measure the Olympic venue” gained 250 million views on social media site Weibo. Liu previously complained about what he viewed as the Tokyo Olympics’ excessive virus prevention measures which made the team’s preparations “extremely difficult”.

“We didn’t expect some epidemic rules like not wiping the game table with your hand, or blowing (on the ball),” he told CCTV last week. Last week, the Chinese sailing team also complained of poor pandemic prevention measures at their hotel, saying competitors were forced to mix with other guests.

China’s six-member table tennis squad this year includes reigning Olympic champion Ma Long and world number one Fan Zhendong in the men’s singles, while world champion Liu Shiwen will play the mixed doubles and women’s team events.

Aside from China, the only other countries to win Olympic table tennis titles are South Korea (three times) and Sweden (once). However this year fierce rivals Japan are counting on home advantage and some notably strong players — raising fears that the Chinese team might not have it all their own way in the delayed Tokyo Olympics. China is taking a record delegation of 777 athletes and staff to Japan — its largest to an overseas Games.

32 hockey players called for fitness test

By our correspondent

LAHORE: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has called 32 players from the senior team’s camp for fitness test.

Head Coach Khawaja Junaid will be the Camp Commandant. The fitness performances of the players will be reviewed here at the National Hockey Stadium from July 25 to 27. Following players have been called for the fitness test.

Goalkeepers: Amjad Ali Sui Southern Gas, Waqar Wapda, Muneeb-ur-Rehman Sui Southern Gas, Abdullah Mari Petroleum Defenders: Mubashir Ali Wapda, Aqeel Ahmed Mari Petroleum, Moin Shakeel Sai Southern Gas, Abu Bakar Mahmood National Bank, Tazeem Al Hassan Mari Petroleum, Rizwan Ali Wapda, Danish Army, Asif Hanif Mari Petroleum, Adeel Latif Sui Southern Gas, Rizwan Ali PAF

Forwards: M Rizwan Senior Army, M Umar Bhatta Wapda, Ali Shan Sui Southern Gas, Azfar Yaqub Sui Southern Gas, Rana Sohail Riaz Sui Southern Gas, Rana Waheed Wapda, Hamad Anjum Wapda, Ejaz Ahmed Wapda, Roman Khan Wapda, Mohsin Hassan Punjab , Ahmad Nadeem Sui Southern Gas, Hamza Sui Southern Gas, Waqar Ali Mari Petroleum, Salman Razzaq Wapda, Naveed Alam Sui Southern Gas, Obaidullah Sindh, Umair Sattar Mari Petroleum, Nohiz Malik National Bank The players have been directed to report to Khawaja Junaid by July 25 afternoon.