Table tennis: Students upset by ITTF stance over image use

The visual shows two table tennis players in wheelchairs. The ITTF first posted it on their Facebook page without any credit.
The visual shows two table tennis players in wheelchairs. The ITTF first posted it on their Facebook page without any credit.PHOTO: PROJECT THIS ABILITY

NTU final-year project re-posted with credit upon correspondence with int'l sports body

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) found itself in a fix yesterday, after it posted an image conceived by a group of Singapore undergraduates on its Facebook page without crediting its creators.

The image, re-designed from the International Symbol of Access, showed two of the iconic wheelchair symbols playing table tennis.

It was a part of Project This Ability, a campaign created by a group of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) undergraduates for their final-year project, which is a bid to help raise awareness for disability sports in Singapore.

The Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information students said their requests via Facebook to be given credit for the graphic illustration, after it found its way onto the ITTF Facebook page, went unanswered. This led them to write to the table tennis world governing body.

The ITTF acceded to the students' requests, taking down the post and last night re-posted it with credit, promoting the students' campaign.

However, the incident did not sit well with project group member Collin Wang, who took to his Facebook page to voice his grievances.

In the post - which has since been shared more than 200 times, and was also picked up by news website Mothership - the 27-year-old took particular issue with the e-mail exchange with the ITTF, which has its Asia-Pacific office in Singapore.

Wang said in his post: "... (The ITTF) also implied that we should be grateful brats as the reach of 35,000 was a credit to our work.

"I'm seriously disturbed that an established organisation can just take and own someone else's content, and when they're caught, feign ignorance with such an unapologetic response."

When queried, an ITTF spokesman said: "The ITTF appreciates organisations like Project This Ability all around the world who are advocates of disability sports.

"The ITTF invests a lot of time and resources into giving people with disabilities a chance to enrich their lives though table tennis, and we love to promote them playing it.

"We hope to do some work with them (the students) in the future to promote table tennis for those with disabilities.

"We hope they keep on the good work promoting disability sports."

Joey Chua, 23, another member of the group, said they did not mean for the issue to blow up.

She said: "We didn't mean for this to happen. A lot of work went into creating these collaterals.

"We're trying to push out a message and we just wanted people to know that this was a part of Project This Ability.

"It's awesome that the ITTF has shared the content and acknowledged the campaign."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2017, with the headline 'Students upset by ITTF stance over image use'. Print Edition | Subscribe