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Table tennis doubles faces Olympics axe

Julian Linden in Athens | August 23, 2004 19:56 IST

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) wants to drop the doubles from the next Olympics in Beijing and stop China from winning so many medals.

ITTF president Adham Sharara said the federation plans to replace the pairs in Beijing with a team event.

"We have submitted an official proposal to the IOC regarding changes to be made," Sharara said.

"A decision is expected in 2005 and we are optimistic that it will be a positive one, provided the number of players and judges doesn't change."

China has won 11 of the 12 golds medals decided at the last three Olympics, including Athens, but there are concerns their domination is unhealthy for the sport.

The Chinese invariably win two medals in most events so a new rule was introduced in Athens to prevent players from the same country meeting in the final.

Under the proposed rule change for Beijing, China's medal count will be reduced because countries will only be allowed to enter one team.

Sharara denied the changes were designed to stop China from winning but conceded countries needed to catch up to them.

"All the changes were made in order to render table tennis more attractive and more modern," he said.

"These changes were made to make the sport more attractive.

"Of course, whenever you make changes the best players are the ones who are affected the most.

"So this means that the changes will affect the Chinese but as you can see they are still winning....and things are only going to change when other countries do as much preparation, training and infrastructure works as the Chinese do."

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