POSTED: November 22nd 2011

Peace and Sport: Korean Air sponsors ping pong event uniting two Koreas in sport

Ten nations came together to participate and play ping pong / Peace and Sport
Ten nations came together to participate and play ping pong / Peace and Sport

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA/MONACO: The first edition of the Peace and Sport Table Tennis Cup uses sport to bring together the two Koreas and North Korea, Pakistan and India under the umbrella of a simple table tennis event.

A good forty years after “Ping-Pong Diplomacy” brought the USA and China together during the Cold War with a table tennis match, the idea was revitalized to work with a number of nations.

Doha, Qatar was the destination for the event that is being held on 21 and 22 November with the participation of ten countries. Diplomats from all the countries were invited to attend in the hope of further breaking barriers.  

Pairings for the 10 participating nations were approved by the ITTF and are:

4. Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) with Republic of Korea (South Korea)
5. USA with RUSSIA

Korean Airlines also stepped in to donate a substantial $100,000 prize fund for the mixed pairs tournament.

Yang Ho Cho, head of Korean Air and himself a Peace and Sport Ambassador, said, “The first Peace and Sport Table Tennis Cup is set to be an historic occasion for the sport and also for sending out peace messages through sport.

“I believe we can promote friendly relations and dialogue between players, spectators and their nations. Sport is a neutral territory that crosses all barriers and hostilities."

The founder and head of Peace and Sport, Joel Bouzou, said, "The first Peace and Sport Table Tennis Cup is set to be a historic moment! It will foster dialogue between countries and promote mutual understanding and peace in an unprecedented way for a sports event.

“By pairing together, the athletes provide an example of amicable teamwork to diplomats and government representatives from the 10 participating nations who are invited to watch the tournament.

“The neutral status of sport provides an ideal environment for people to meet and discuss with no fixed agenda. That’s the power of sport! As a former athlete myself, it’s a great pride and an immense honour to have succeeded in bringing together countries which would not easily communicate in other contexts.”

ITTF President, Adham Sharara, was thrilled at what this meant for the sport and said, "This event may mark a new era for Ping Pong diplomacy, or in today's lingo 'Ping Pong Diplomacy version 2.0'.

“It has always been my dream that our sport is used in peace initiatives bringing together representatives from different countries and have them play 'together' side by side in an atmosphere of peace and understanding.

“I am very happy that all the participating countries have put peace and sport ahead of any political differences. This is the right way forward and we are witnessing history and a new era for sport as a means for promoting peace."

Seedings for Doubles Pairs in the Peace and Sport Table Tennis Cup

Seeding Pair and Ranking Points
1st seed: RYU Seung Min (KOR) + KIM Hyok Bong (PRK) 2420+1923 = 4343
2nd seed: MATTENET Adrian (FRA) + YOSHIDA Kaii (JPN) 2186+2146 = 4332
3rd seed: CHEN Qi (CHN) + AL-MOHANNADI Ahmed (QAT) 2476+1391 = 3867
4th seed: FAN Yiyong (USA) + VLASOV Grigory (RUS) 1481+1833 = 3314
5th seed: ROY Soumyadeep (IND) + AWAIS HASSAN Syed (PAK) 1575+1200 = 2775

Seeding Pair and Ranking Points
1st seed: KIM Kyong Ah (KOR) + KIM Hye Song (PRK) 2579+2028 = 4607
2nd seed: ZHANG Lily (USA) + TIKHOMIROVA Anna (RUS) 1959+2205 = 4164
3rd seed: GRUNDISCH Carole (FRA) + MIYAKE Natsumi (JPN) 2091+1805 = 3896
4th seed: CAO Zhen (CHN) + MOHAMED Aia Magdy (QAT) 2359+ 805 = 3164
5th seed: GHATAK Poulomi (IND) + FLAK SHER Sadia (PAK) 1759+ 750 = 2509

Keywords · Peace and Sport · Ping Pong diplomacy · North Korea · South Korea · Yang Ho Cho · Joel Bouzou · Adham Sharara

For more information contact:
Laura Walden ()

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