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Table Tennis

Chinese player faces racist remark at 2021 Table Tennis World Championships

Racism raised its ugly head briefly at the World Table Tennis Championships when a Chinese player was allegedly called a 'yellow banana' during a match.

Chinese player Liang Jingkun suspected of being targetted to racist slurs at the Table Tennis World Championships 2021

Chinese player Liang Jingkun suspected of being targetted to racist slurs at the Table Tennis World Championships 2021 (Source: ITTF)


Sohinee Basu

Published: 29 Nov 2021 8:36 AM GMT

For a sport largely dominated by Asians, table tennis becomes an easy space for being on the receiving end of a lot of racist remarks. The most recent case of one such instance of racism occurred at the ongoing 2021 World Table Tennis Championships Finals where a Chinese player was name-called and taunted during a match against a British fellow.

During the Round of 16 match of the Men's Singles where China's Liang Jingkun, ranked World No. 9 clashed against Great Britain's Liam Pitchford, the World No. 15 - certain members of the audience started shouting - "Yellow banana! Yellow banana!" and taunting the skin colour (non-white) of Asians and being openly disrespectful of Jingkun.

For the first time, the United States of America - a country that lives and breathes on so-called masculine, adrenaline-pumping sports like basketball, baseball, and soccer, is playing host to the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships Finals that is being held in Houston from the 23rd of November to the 29th of the same month.

The fourth round encounter between Jingkun and Pitchford was tensely fought and it was during the tie-breaker where the score was lodged at 8-4 that Liam Pitchford motioned for a rest and sat down to have a banana that was handed to him. Jingkun also went over to his coach to have a short talk - this was when the crowd started buzzing in ruckus and someone from the spectators called out "yellow banana, yellow!" on-loop, very loudly, till other audience members also began chanting it for a while.

Although there is no identified suspect for it yet, it is being believed that the name-calling was targetted at Jingkun, given the circumstances of the match. The Chinese player was however unruffled by this and didn't let this affect his game - going on to seal the victory, 4-3. While many are also assuming that the man from the audience was referring to Pitchford having the banana, the mention of the word yellow, which is considered racist in an Asian context.

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has seriously condemned this act and in a statement on Sunday night mentioned that it won't tolerate any racist behavior and it has been working closely with the local organizing committee to prevent any racist incidents from happening again at the games in Houston. Meanwhile, the Chinese Table Tennis Federation (CTTF) has lodged a complaint already with the ITTF regarding this and is awaiting strict action.

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