China's national table tennis women's team coach and former world champion Kong Linghui is being sued in Hong Kong by Marina Bay Sands (MBS) for some $450,000 he owes the integrated resort, the city's media reported.
MBS is seeking to recover $454,375 of $1 million Mr Kong allegedly borrowed in 2015, plus interest, the reports said yesterday.
Mr Kong said in a statement on his Weibo account that he had merely accompanied his family members to the casino at MBS.
"Someone apparently became embroiled in a financial dispute at that time, and now I am embroiled in a lawsuit," said Mr Kong, who was in Dusseldorf, Germany, yesterday with China's national team for the World Table Tennis Championships. He said he would defend himself through legal means.
According to the writ filed by MBS with the Hong Kong High Court last week, Mr Kong signed a credit agreement in February 2015 to borrow $1 million from the operator, $100,000 of which went to a deposit to establish him as a "premium player". The 41-year-old has since repaid only $545,625, says MBS.
The Singapore-based company did not say in the writ why it chose to file its case in Hong Kong, the media reports said. MBS declined to comment when approached by The Straits Times yesterday.
Mr Kong was drafted into China's national team at 16 in 1991 and became famous after winning the grand slam of titles - the World Championships, World Cup and Olympics - between the late 1990s and early 2000s.
He is considered one of the all-time greats of table tennis and was dubbed Ping Pong Prince in the Chinese-speaking world.
He retired in 2006 and became the head coach of China's women's national team in 2013.