Japanese players will be barred from competing in the Chinese Table Tennis Super League, possibly until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a source at the Japan Table Tennis Association said Thursday.
The CTTSL has decided on a policy of no foreign paddlers, according to the source, who said that women’s world No. 6 and current Asian champion Miu Hirano was recently notified of the move by the Chinese club that she was scheduled to play for.
The decision is thought to have been reached over fears that Japanese players have become more of a threat from having competed in China, which has long dominated the sport.
Kasumi Ishikawa, at No. 5 Japan’s top-ranked female player in the world, was set to play in the league for the first time this year.
Until now, there has been a limit to the number of Japanese players that are allowed to play in the league around one year before an Olympic Games.
“Three years (before an Olympics) is a bit too early. Japanese players are being targeted as China looks to sweep the medals,” the JTTA official said.
Hirano has improved significantly as a player since playing in the league last year. At the Asian championships in April she beat three Chinese players, including world No. 1 Ding Ning, en route to the women’s singles title.