by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
China’s Ma Long and Ding Ning were on duty, as were the Republic of Korea’s Ryu Seungmin and Kim Kyungah. Likewise, Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto and Ai Fukuhara were present alongside DPR Korea’s Pak Hyon Sin and Kim Song I.
However, the one game matches focused on harmony and understanding, not intense competition.
Both Thomas Weikert, ITTF President and Steve Dainton, ITTF Chief Executive were present alongside Raul Calin, ITTF Secretary-General, who was charged with a very special task. He assumed umpiring duties.
Ma Long and Ai Fukuhara played against Pak Sin Hyok and Kim Kyungah; for Ryu Seungmin and Ding Ning, the opponents were Tomokazu Harimoto and Kim Song I.
Mixed Doubles and with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games ever closer, the event has now assumed a most significant importance.
“First of all we are very happy to have now a mixed; thanks to IOC that we have the possibility. We have had the mixed in ITTF since 1926, so now it’s time to have a mixed of genuine quality in the Olympic Games. I think it is good men and women play in one match. Japan is a strong table tennis country, so it’s good for them, possibly a medal.” Thomas Weikert
Matters progressed with Thomas Bach, IOC President renewing his acquaintance with Kim Song I; the duo had played when he had visited Pyongyang, in Lausanne the complement was returned.
A most convivial occasion, the day ended with Ai Fukuhara presenting a racket signed by all the players to Thomas Bach. Inscribed were the words: “Thank you IOC for paving the way through sport for peace on the Korean Peninsula region and the world.”
The event was very much another step in promoting understanding on the Korean Peninsula; a process in which the International Table Tennis Federation has made a major contribution.
Earlier this year on Friday 4th May, due to face each other at the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Team event at the Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships in Halmstad, it was agreed that Korea Republic and DPR Korea could unite.
Notably earlier this year at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, in Pyeonchang, Korea Republic and DPR Korea marched together at the Opening Ceremony; it is anticipated the same will happen at the 2018 Asian Games to be held in late August and early September in Jakarta and Palembang.
Olympic Day: Watch the Mixed Doubles events unfold in Lausanne