Table tennis tournament designed to bring rival countries closer together
Tuesday, 15 November 2011
November 15 - Forty years after "Ping-Pong Diplomacy" helped to restore diplomatic relations between the United States and China during the Cold War, table-tennis is about to make history again by uniting North and and South Korea, as well as India and Pakistan.
A historic tournament dubbed the "Peace and Sport Table Tenns Cup" takes place here on November 21 and 22 designed to encourage dialogue and reconciliation between nations.
The doubles tournament for both men and women, the latest sporting coup by Qatar, sees China provisionally paired with the host nation, France with Japan and then, intriguingly, India with Pakistan and North Korea with the South.
It is hoped that the players involved will pave the way to ease political tensions, unite nations through table tennis and promote peace.
Diplomats from the 10 participating nations have also been invited to watch the tournament, offering further opportunities to the countries to interact and foster dialogue at the highest level.
The tournament has been arranged by "Peace and Sport" - a neutral and apolitical international initiative based in Monaco, founded by modern pentathlon former world champion and Olympic medallist Joel Bouzou and placed under the High-Patronage of Prince Albert.
Also involved are the International Table Tennis Federation along with the Qatar Table Tennis Association and the country's national Olympic Committee.
"The first Peace and Sport Table Tennis Cup is set to be a historic moment," said Bouzou.
"It will foster dialogue between countries and promote mutual understanding and peace in an unprecedented way for a sports event.
"The neutral status of sport provides an ideal environment for people to meet and discuss with no fixed agenda.
"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."
The tournament has a $100,000 ($158,000/€117,000) prize fund for the winners offered by Korean Airlines.