After 238 days, international table tennis is back.

After 238 days, international table tennis is back.

Shanghai: After an eight-month break due to the coronavirus, international table tennis returned to China this week. Top players admitted they were anxious and rusty but also excited.

In the eastern seaside city of Weihai, 21 players from all over the world will compete in the Women’s World Cup, which got underway behind closed doors on Sunday for three days. Two more International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) competitions in China’s mainland will take place after it.

The pandemic has severely affected all forms of sport, but the prestigious competitions have gained even more significance. China, which announced in July that it would not host most international sports for the remainder of the year, seems to be an unusual exception.

Top table tennis players also see the events as a critical chance to regain their competitive edge and earn world ranking points in preparation for the postponed Tokyo Olympics next summer.

“We were jokering even before the match that someone would miss their serve because everyone was so nervous,” said American Lily Zhang, 24, who lost to Margaryta Pesotska of Ukraine in her opening set.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed that I didn’t win, but on the plus side, I’m really grateful that I’m able to attend and compete in this tournament.

“We are a little nervous and rusty because, I believe, none of us have had any match practice this year and there haven’t been any international competitions since March.”

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