(REUTERS, XINHUA) – China and the United States will team up for mixed doubles at the World Table Tennis Championships which kick off on Tuesday, November 23, on the 50th anniversary of “ping-pong diplomacy,” the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) said Monday.
The “ping-pong diplomacy” was sparked by a meeting between a Chinese player and an American player at the 1971 World Championships and has improved relations between the two countries.
This culminated in the invitation of a US table tennis team to China to play what the Chinese call “ping pong”, ultimately paving the way for US President Richard Nixon’s trip to the country in 1972.
Chinese Lin Gaoyuan and Wang Manyu will team up with Americans Lily Zhang and Kanak Jha respectively at the event from November 23 to 29 in Houston, the ITTF said.
“I am really happy to partner with Lily Zhang for the mixed doubles event,” said Lin. “She is the best table tennis player in the United States. I am not yet the best player in China, but our goal is to come out on top in this event.
“The biggest advantage of teaming up with her is that she speaks Mandarin. I hope we can get into the beat soon, develop good chemistry and work hard for a great performance.”
Echo Zhang: “It’s so cool to team up with a player from the Chinese national team. They are the best in the world, so I will do my best and hope we can work well together and achieve a good result. . “
Calling “this will be a historic moment,” the five-time national champion of the United States said she was very happy that China and the United States can work together through the sport.
The China Table Tennis Association (CTTA) and the American Table Tennis Association jointly submitted the request to allow the China-US pairs to compete, to the ITTF and the ITTF executive committee approving the request Sunday, according to the statement.
“We have been thinking about how we can build on the China-US friendship initiated by our predecessors 50 years ago, and further strengthen this relationship through sporting events, sports activities and events. community, ”Liu Guoliang, president of the World Table Tennis Council. and president of CTTA, said.
Virginia Sung, CEO of USA Table Tennis, commented, “We are truly delighted that the opportunity has come true for China and the United States to play a mixed doubles event in Houston.
“As it did so many years ago, sport once again shows us the power of unity, and ping pong is once again changing the course of history”, a- she declared.
Fifty years ago, the American team was invited by its Chinese counterparts to visit China after the 31st World Championships in Nagoya, Japan.
The American players landed in Beijing on April 10, 1971, becoming the first American group to visit China since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.
The Chinese team paid a return visit the following year.
“Once again, we are all witnessing the unique power of sport and how table tennis can create dialogues and foster mutual understanding,” said Steve Dainton, CEO of ITTF Group.
“This will inspire us to host extraordinary and historic championships and foster the dreams, hopes and aspirations not only of the entire table tennis community but also of the next generation around the world,” he said. -he adds.
The event will be the first time the tournament has taken place in the United States.