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Table tennis: China may face sanction after top players no-show

The International Table Tennis Federation threatened today to slap sanctions on China's national team after three top players quit a tournament in apparent protest at their head coach's removal.

The ITTF received a public apology from the Chinese team but it said it was taking the matter "extremely seriously" as it "damaged the image and the integrity of table tennis globally".

"Right now, all potential sanctions are on the table, and the ITTF will continue its investigation before any decisions are made," the sport's world governing body said in a statement.

The ITTF said the Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA) gave a preliminary statement but it requested a detailed report.

The sport's three top-ranked players — Ma Long, Xu Xin and Fan Zhendong — all failed to appear for their second- round singles matches at the prestigious ITTF World Tour Platinum China Open in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Friday. Two coaches also failed to show up.

The national team said in a public apology issued late Saturday that the players forfeited their matches "on impulse without fully understanding the details of the modifications that will be made to the management of the team".

"We have deeply realised the seriousness of this fault, resulting in ... damaging the team's positive social image of upholding patriotism, collectivism, and striving to fight for the glory of the country," it added.

Their no-show prompted China's top sports authority to order an investigation and reprimand the players, saying they had "ignored national honour and interests" and "disrespected the public".
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