Zero tolerance for racism: ITTF

Table tennis body reacts after spectator hurls racial insult at Chinese player in Houston

HOUSTON • The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) issued a statement on Sunday, saying it strongly opposes all forms of racism.

"The table tennis family is a global community group composed of 227 member associations," the world governing body for the sport added, noting "diversity unites us".

"We will not tolerate any racist remarks or behaviour, and we are working closely with the local organising committee to prevent recurrence of racist incidents in our games," the ITTF said.

The statement came after a reported incident during one of the men's singles quarter-finals at the ongoing World Table Tennis Championships in Houston, Texas on Saturday.

An unidentified man sitting in the stands allegedly shouted "yellow banana" at Chinese paddler Liang Jingkun during his match against England's Liam Pitchford.

The term "yellow banana" has in the past been used a slur against Asians and the Chinese Table Tennis Association later lodged a complaint to the ITTF.

Acknowledging the complaint, chief executive Steve Dainton said: "We took it very, very seriously and we started to take action. Whenever and if anything is ever heard again, we will take those people out."

ITTF president Petra Sorling added: "We are standing against racism. For us, our motto - table tennis for all, for life - is reality, it's not only our motto."

In Sunday's men's singles semi-finals, Liang lost 11-5, 11-4, 11-9, 8-11, 13-11 to compatriot Fan Zhendong. Fan, the world No. 1 and Olympic champion, will meet 19-year-old Swede Truls Moregard, who eliminated German veteran Timo Boll 8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8, 11-5, for the title.

The women's singles final will be contested by world No. 2 Sun Yingsha and world No. 4 Wang Manyu, following the all-Chinese semi-finals. Sun defeated world No. 10 Wang Yidi 11-8, 3-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8, while Wang Manyu rallied from two games down to oust world No. 1 and Olympic champion Chen Meng 9-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-13, 11-9, 11-8.

Sun and Wang Chuqin beat Japan's Hina Hayata and Tomokazu Harimoto 11-2, 11-5, 11-8 to take the mixed doubles title.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2021, with the headline Zero tolerance for racism: ITTF. Subscribe