NIGATA, Japan, and Reuter: Officials and team captains at the Asian Table Tennis Championships which opened on Sunday are as much concerned with politics as winning the event.

Most of the continent’s squabbles are represented in the playing halls of the northern Japanese city of Niigata with Iran and Iraq, North Korea and South Korea, China and Taiwan — all at least technically at war with each other — searching for a breakthrough in ping pong diplomacy.

On Saturday night, the opening reception of the weeklong championship brought all the teams together into the room but the warring parties worked hard to avoid bumping into each other.

A Phalanx of photographers followed the North Korean team Captain Li JongHo around, hoping to catch him shaking hands with his South Korean counterpart. They were out of luck.

South Korean coach Hong Jong Hyun said he would urge the North Koreans to attend the Olympic Games if he had a chance,

“We talk together every time (we meet) but it is very difficult,” he said. “They only want to talk about politics. We are only sportsmen, we only know about table tennis”.

Iranian team chief Ali Armand said his country was willing to compete against Iraq at table tennis even though they are at war with each other.

“Our foreign policy demands that we never play against Israel or South Africa but when we meet Iraq we will play against them and do our best,” he said.

GENEVA, Reuter: The International Football Federation


(FIFA) has arranged meetings with the three bidders for the 1994 World cup soccer finals in Zurich this week.

Press spokesman Guido Tog noni said on Tuesday separate meetings chaired by FIFA General Secretary September Would be held on Thursday and Friday with delegation from Brazil, Morocco and the United States.

PEKING: China will send its largest ever Olympic team to Seoul in September, including for the first time boxers, soccer and table tennis players, the National Olympic Committee said

While final names have not been decided, China plans to send around 300 sportsmen and women.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 20, 1988