Foreigners should train with China team: ITTF

Sun Jan 12, 2014 9:22am EST
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By Matt Smith

DUBAI (Reuters) - China's table tennis federation should give foreign players more access to its coaches to ease the country's stranglehold on the sport and attract more television and sponsor interest, the head of the world governing body said.

In the men's game, Chinese players have won seven of the past eight biennial world championships, while China's women have claimed the last 10 titles.

"It reminds me of 20 years ago when the U.S. was dominating basketball - they (the U.S.) were able to promote the sport elsewhere and bring the top players from other countries to the NBA," said Adham Sharara, president of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).

"Today, the U.S. is still very strong but doesn't dominate like how China dominates our sport."

The Canadian said lesser Chinese preeminence would help attract greater sponsorship and television coverage of table tennis, which has been an Olympic sport since 1988.

Globally, there are 217 national federations, second only to volleyball, but the prize money on offer is a pittance compared with many sports.

The World Tour Grand Finals in Dubai this weekend - table tennis's richest event - had a total cash pot of $878,000 for the men's and women's singles and doubles tournaments. Novak Djokovic, the world number two in men's tennis, earned $1.92 million for winning December's ATP World Tour Finals.

"Even in China itself, the general public is getting tired of seeing China winning all the time," said Sharara.   Continued...