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Team event to replace doubles at Beijing Olympics
Updated: 2004-08-23 19:58

Adham Sharara, president of the International table tennis federation (ITTF) said Monday that he was very optimistic that team competition would replace the current doubles events in the Olympic table tennis tournament when the Games goes to Beijing in 2008.

"We have already had discussions with the IOC (international Olympic Committee) president and IOC sports directors. And we are expecting the IOC executive board to make a decision in 2005," said Sharara at a press conference in the Galatasi Olympic Hall in northwest Athens, venue for the Olympic table tennis tournament.

"The final decision belongs to the IOC executive board but we are very optimistic (about the approval of the proposal)," he said.

The ITTF president said that as long as the number of participating athletes, the days of competition and the number of equipment are not to be increased at the Beijing Games, there should be no problem for the proposal to be accepted by the IOC.

Asked about the details of the new team competition, Sharara said that the ITTF had prepared several formats, but details would be given only after the IOC approval.

But he revealed that there would "probably be 12 to 16 teams" in the proposed Olympic team competition.

Earlier when asked about the Olympic draw rule changes, which stipulated two pairs of players from the same association be drawn to the same half in the doubles events and therefore were regarded as "unfair to the stronger players", Sharara answered: "This will no longer be a problem because we have proposed team competition to replace doubles for the next Olympics in Beijing 2008."

Chinese table tennis team head coach Cai Zhenhua had said before the Athens Games that he supported the event change at the Beijing Games because it would make the matches more competitive and more spectacular.

The Chinese paddlers have clinched 9 of the total 10 doubles golds at the Olympic Games since the debut of table tennis at the Games in Seoul 1988.





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