"Small table tennis playing area at Tokyo Olympics," complains China
Concerned about the "smallness" of the playing area space at Tokyo Olympics for table tennis, China's TT chief speaks up.
The Tokyo Olympics may be happening under different and difficult circumstances this time around but what has come to the notice of China's table tennis chief, Liu Guoliang, is the anomaly in the playing space area at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
Fearsome of the fact that this "smaller than usual" playing space area will have an impact on the performance and safety of the paddlers, Liu Guoliang, an erstwhile Career Grand Slam winner, relayed his set of complaints to CCTV.
"The whole playing space is smaller than usual... world competitions normally have areas measuring seven by 14 metres... I just measured it at six by 11 metres," Chinese Table Tennis Association President Liu Guoliang told state broadcaster CCTV.
In table tennis, China exercises a massive stronghold and to its credit has bagged 28 of the 32 gold medals so far contested at the Olympic Games.
Considered to be a factory for producing champion paddlers who are moulded to be Olympic medallists, Chinese table tennis players are definitely the best in the business. Known to undergo military-like training to simply participate in the Games, it is difficult to deny them the top honours.
However, the Tokyo Olympics venue for table tennis does not measure up to the usual size and recently a video of Guoliang with the hashtag "Liu Guoliang uses his foot length to measure the Olympic venue" appeared on Weibo.
Attracting the attention of the Chinese table tennis contingent as well, World No. 2 Xu Xin mentioned, "We have been noticing the size of the playing area throughout. Several side serves hit the screen board (at the side of the court) and we were slightly affected," Xin told CCTV.
Chinese paddlers a little puzzled by pandemic rules
China will be sending a six-member team to battle it out for the medal honours available at the Tokyo Olympics. Featuring in this starry pack will be table tennis legend and reigning Olympic champion - Ma 'The Dragon' Long and World No. 1 Fan Zhendong in the men's half while Liu Shiwen will take part in the women's team event and mixed doubles.
Earlier, Liu Guoliang had spoken out against the water-tight measures for Tokyo Olympics to prevent COVID-19 and said that those extreme safety checks made the Chinese team's preparations "extremely difficult".
"We didn't expect some epidemic rules like not wiping the game table with your hand, or blowing (on the ball)," Guoliang told CCTV last week.
Heading into the Tokyo Olympics, China will once again seek to dominate the medal table in this sport and it will be difficult to tame them - small playing space area or not.