Plans to invite the Chinese table tennis team to train in Japan have hit a hurdle as a prospective host municipality has backed down to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, Japan Table Tennis Association sources said Saturday.
The association had initially agreed to take in about 50 members of China's national team who are now training in Doha to avoid returning home in the wake of a new virus that has killed more than 2,800 people worldwide as of Saturday.
Liu Guoliang, president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, said the team received invitations from fellow table tennis federations including Japan, Germany and Austria, but chose Doha as their top players are set to participate in the Qatar Open to be held in early March, according to the International Table Tennis Federation.
(China's Ma Long)
The sources said that talks to provide assistance to the Chinese team, which includes Olympic and world champion Ma Long, fell apart as the nation responds to the government's abrupt call for all schools to shut down.
On Thursday night, in an unprecedented move, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked local authorities to shut all elementary, junior and senior high schools from Monday through the end of spring break in early April.
Earlier this month, the JTTA was arranging to welcome the Chinese team to a training base in the Kanto region centered on Tokyo after the March 22-29 team world championships in Busan, South Korea.
A JTTA official said the association will seek to continue discussing the possibilities for helping the CTTA.
"We haven't given up," the official said.