Madrid: The world’s top table tennis players will be screened for the deadly SARS virus before being allowed to take part in next week’s world championships, the sport’s leaders said Thursday.
Haunted by the spectre of the killer bug, table tennis chiefs have demanded rigid health checks for the tournament in Paris.
Badminton’s world championships — which had been due to take place this week — were postponed last month over SARS fears.
Like table tennis, most of the favourites were from areas most affected by the killer virus, including China.
International Table Tennis Federation president Adham Sharara said Thursday that strict checks had been put in place to safeguard players’ health. “Players have to undergo a strict medical check on leaving their country and another on arrival in Paris,” he said.
“We have planned ahead on this and so are not suffering major problems. China, for example, are already in Paris having received a clean bill of health in good time.”
Sharara — in Madrid for a sports conference — said a team of doctors will be on call 24-hours-a-day for the week-long event involving more than 700 athletes from 116 countries.
“Plus, if any athletes or any delegates from the teams has a fever they have to inform the French authorities immediately to be checked out.
However, Sharara said there had been a degree of reticence but that it had come from the officials not the players.
The ITTF may relax its rules of etiquette to allay officials’ fears, he added. “I think some were nervous of having to shake players’ hands at the end of the match,” he smiled. “So we will perhaps relax our rules on that one.” (Reuters)