Table tennis: Qatar lends China team a hand with 2,000 balls


MUMBAI (Reuters) – China’s table tennis federation thanked its Qatari counterpart on Tuesday for providing training facilities and equipment, including 2,000 balls, to its national team, who are training in Doha to avoid the coronavirus outbreak at home.

More than 42,000 people have been infected by the flu-like virus in mainland China, with authorities confirming more than 1,000 deaths.

Almost 30 members of the Chinese squad have been training at Doha’s Aspire Academy Arena since the conclusion of the German Open in Magdeburg earlier this month.

With several countries imposing travel bans due to the outbreak, the Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA) sought a training facility for its players away from home.

It received invitations from Germany, Austria and Japan among others but chose Doha as several of their top players are set to participate in the Qatar Open from March 3-8.

“We didn’t expect that they could prepare the venue, tables and facilities for us within such a short period of time,” CTTA President Liu Guoliang said in a statement released by the Internatioal Table Tennis Federation.

“The tables that we are using for training are those that will be used at the Qatar Open.

“QTTA has even given us all 2,000 that they had in storage for us to train. It might be a common situation in China but it’s very heart-warming, especially during this particular period and we really appreciate all this help from our international friends.”

Asian powerhouse China has won 28 out of 32 golds awarded since the sport became an Olympic sport in 1988 and QTTA chief Khalil Al-Mohannadi said he wanted to make sure the world’s best would be playing at the Qatar event.

“When I heard about the coronavirus in China, our worry was that the Chinese national team would not be able to play at the Qatar Open,” he said.

“For me it is not the Qatar Open and not the World Championships without China.”

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Peter Rutherford