NEW DELHI, India: A mysterious virus has struck the Swedish table tennis team at the world championships here, forcing Mikael Appelgren to leave for home and the others to stop shaking hands to prevent it from spreading.

Rikard Viberg, the squad’s doctor, told Reuters he could not identify the virus which left all seven men and three out of four women players suffering fever, diarrhea and sore threats over the last two days.

The fourth woman player, Barbaro Wiktorsson, broke a rib last week when she fell off her chair while dining in her hotel. She will miss six weeks of competition, the doctor said.

Viberg said Appelgren would leave for Sweden because he showed signs of recovering from the illness which forced him to give walkovers in the first round men’s singles and doubles matches.

Appelgren, seeded nine in the singles, and Ulf Carlson were defending their doubles title, the only one of the seven titles in the last championships which China did not win. “It is not the food which has caused the illness because we are very careful about what we eat, and it is not the water because we have brought our own drink here.” said Viberg. “But it is obviously contagious and so we have even stopped shaking hands with each other”.

Viberg said only Lindh appeared little affected by the illness, which made European champion Jorgen Person struggle to defeat Belgium’s Jean Michael Save in four games in his first round match.

Swedish coach Anders Thunstrom said lunch was the main European hope to win the title because he felt the illness had destroyed the chances of JanOve Waldner, the player with the best technique to handle the Chinese superstars.

“Lindh is very fast and hardhitting with top spin and a little luck. who knows, we may even beat the Chinesese but it all depends on who meets which Chinese player”, Thunstrom said.

Thunstrom did not field Waldner in the men’s team event final on Tuesday when Sweden lost 50 to China.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 6, 1987