Pingpong Diplomacy to be revived at Qatar tournament
Koreas to field unified team at historic Peace and Sport Table Tennis Cup in Qatar
Peace and Sport Table Tennis Cup in Doha on November 21 and 22
Doha Qatar: Forty years after a week of table tennis exhibition matches helped restore relations between the United States and China, Ping Pong Diplomacy is making a comeback at a table tennis tournament in Qatar.
The Peace and Sport Table Tennis Cup, the first of its kind for any sport, aims at encouraging dialogue and good relations between nations and will take place in Qatari capital Doha on November 21 and 22.
Ping Pong diplomacy refers to the exchange of table tennis players between the United States and People's Republic of China in the 1970s.
In 1971, amid escalating Cold War rhetoric, an American table tennis team went to China. The matches helped open China to the world and paved the way for a groundbreaking visit from US President Richard Nixon the following year, when the countries established diplomatic channels.
Twelve nations have confirmed their participation at the event which aims at encouraging dialogue and good relations between nations.
India and Pakistan, the two Koreas, US and Iran are some of the countries, which are in conflict with each other, have confirmed their entry for the two –day tournament. The two Koreas will be fielding a unified team in Qatar.
In table tennis, the Koreas last formed a joint team at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships in Chiba City, Japan, and won the gold in the women’s team event.
The twelve nations which have confirmed their participation for the tournament are North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, the US, France, Great Britain, India, Pakistan, Iran and hosts Qatar, an International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) official confirmed here yesterday.
Organized by the Qatar Tennis Table Association (QTTA) with the support of the Qatar Olympic Committee, under the leadership of ITTF and the guidance of Peace and Sport, the event is seen as an unprecedented sports event that will break political tensions and
unite nations. The Peace and Sport Table Tennis Cup will use the power and core values of sport as a driving force to promote peace and unity.
The two-day tournament will take place at Aspire Academy and carries prize money of $100,000.
The tournament is one of the several high profile events that Qatar is planning to host in the coming years.
Besides the 2022 Football World Cup, Qatar is bidding to host the 2020 Olympics and the 2017 IAAF World Championship of International Association of Athletics Federations.
ITTF President, Adham Sharara said that the tournament aims to build new friendship between different nations.
“The competition aims to promote world peace and Table Tennis is the first sport to actually have this kind of event. The event will see players compete over two days before an audience of key government officials and diplomats from 12 competing nations. Players will compete in men's and women's singles, doubles and mixed doubles. In the doubles events, partnerships will be created with players from different nations symbolizing the unifying objectives of the event,” said the Egyptian-born Canadian citizen, who has been President of ITTF since 1999.
“The Peace and Sport Table Tennis Cup will witness teams composed of exceptional duos that will make an indelible mark on our memories and turn these athletes into genuine ambassadors of global peace,” Sharara said.
“Sport goes far beyond competitions and games. Many historic and recent examples demonstrate that it acts as a major political lever that can serve as a mediator in the international diplomatic arena,” Joël Bouzou, President and Founder of Peace and Sport, said.
“This is the driving ambition of this tournament which I hope will allow us to reach a stage where we can bury the quarrels of the past, encourage dialogue between certain countries and more globally, promote mutual understanding and peace,” he added.
QTTA Technical Advisor Zlatko Cordas said the tournament would be a milestone in the nation’s sports history.
“We’ve hosted the world’s top players in our country, during the Qatar Open, but this’ll be a much more important tournament. It’ll be a milestone event. We’ve already received participation confirmation from 12 countries and it’ll be widely covered by the world media,”
Hamad Al Hamadi, Secretary General of QTTA and Manager of Sport and Peace Championship held a co-ordination meeting with representatives of participating countries here last week for the smooth conduct of the tournament.
Tags: Qatar , India , Pakistan , France , South Korea , North Korea , Ping Pong Diplomacy
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