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Ping-pong team 'too tired' to compete

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-30 08:03

Following a no-show by the Chinese men's table tennis team at a recent tournament, the Chinese Table Tennis Association has withdrawn the team from an international event in Australia next week, citing health reasons.

In response to reports that China's men's team would collectively pull out of next week's International Table Tennis Federation Australian Open, the CTTA confirmed the withdrawal on Thursday and attributed the decision to health concerns over the players involved.

"Due to fatigue and injuries after competing in consecutive tournaments, most of the players are not in good form, so we decided to withdraw them from the Australian Open and let them rest," the association said on its website.

The Chinese women's team will still compete in the tournament held on the Gold Coast between July 4 and 7, the association said.

In a post on Sina Weibo, the International Table Tennis Federation, the sport's world governing body, confirmed the withdrawal of the Chinese men's team, while an investigation into last week's no-show is ongoing.

On June 23, the world's top three men's players, Ma Long, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin, failed to appear for their singles second-round matches at the China Open in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

Earlier, the three players and two coaches had posted on Sina Weibo, "We have no desire to fight ... because we miss you, Liu Guoliang", sparking speculation their actions were in response to the decision to remove Liu as national team head coach.

The CTTA reassigned Liu, a former Olympic and world champion, on June 20, naming him one of the association's vice-presidents, saying the move was aimed at optimizing team management.

The national team later released an apology, saying that the players' reckless behavior had disappointed fans and exposed team management problems.

The General Administration of Sport of China has urged the CTTA to probe the incident.

With some fans interpreting the withdrawal from the Australian Open as a punishment, some of the players involved urged their supporters to respect the decision.

"Missing the Australian Open has nothing to do with the investigation or any orders from the General Administration of Sport," Xu posted on Sina Weibo on Thursday.

"It's just because I am really tired after playing a series of tournaments. I am not young anymore so my mental and physical endurance is not as good as before. I just want to take a break, is that OK?"

His teammate, Fan, said on Sina Weibo that he decided not to play because fatigue had made him vulnerable to injuries.

"I hope to be refreshed for the upcoming National Games after taking a break," he said.

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