table tennis

table tennis
Table tennis played the main role in China’s sportive interactions with the outside world until other sports began to overshadow it in the 1990s. After the founding of the PRC, Chinese players quickly entered the ranks of the world’s best with a gold medal in the men’s singles in the 1959 World Cup. In the 1961 World Cup, the first world sports championships ever held in the PRC, China won three gold medals. Both events stimulated a great deal of patriotic fervour amidst the hardships of the times.
‘Ping Pong Diplomacy’ in 1971 and 1972 was instrumental in the restoration of Sino-US diplomatic relations. Table tennis was added to the Olympic programme in 1988, and Chinese players took home two gold medals and have dominated the sport since then.
Multiple world champion Deng Yaping became a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1997 when an Athletes’ Commission was added to give representation to athletes. When Deng played a Taiwanese for the gold medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, two Taiwanese fans unfurled a Taiwanese flag, which was forbidden by the 1979 IOC resolution that allows Taiwan to compete in the Olympic Games only if it does not use the symbols of the Republic of China. When they would not desist, they were led away in handcuffs by the police. Because of its importance in international relations, table tennis is known as ‘the little ball that moved the big ball [the world]’.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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