China’s Zhang Jike and Liu Shiwen head all-star cast at last major event before Rio 2016 Olympics
An impressive line-up of the world’s leading table tennis players has been confirmed to compete in the first Dubai Asian Cup, the sport’s last major tournament before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Taking place just 100 days before sport’s showpiece event, London 2012 gold medallist Zhang Jike of China heads the all-star cast along with teammate Xu Xin, the defending champion and the World No 3, while compatriots Liu Shiwen, the World No 1, and Zhu Yuling, the World No 3, top the women’s draw.
Admission is free for the event – taking place from 28-30 April at Zabeel Hall 1, Dubai World Trade Centre – and flying the flag for the host nation, United Arab Emirates, will be Abdulla Albalooshi and Noura Almaazmi.
His Excellence Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, said: “The event is a tremendous addition to Dubai’s sports calendar of world-class events and further strengthens its position as a home for racket sports. We understand the importance of sport in uniting cultures, and Dubai’s sponsorship of the Chinese National Table Tennis Team since 2013 not only demonstrates our passion for sport but also our continued commitment to developing strong links with China and supporting the growth of its’ national sport in the Middle East.”
The Asian Table Tennis Union sanctioned event will feature 16 of Asia’s top male and female players including India’s Soumyajit Ghosh and Sharath Kamal Achanta. Asian Cup defending women’s champion Tianwei Feng of Singapore, as well as India’s Manika Batra, will also contest the tournament, organised by the UAE Table Tennis Association, with the support of Dubai Sports Council, Falcon and Associates and Lagardère Sports.
Tony Yue, Secretary General of the Asian Table Tennis Union, said: “The tournament is an opportunity for spectators to watch some of the world’s best players in action and experience a fiercely contested and exciting event. Dubai has a proven track record for delivering outstanding events and we are delighted to bring our tournament to an international standard venue in such a prestigious location.”
Dawoud Al Hajri, President of UAE Table Tennis Association, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming some of the world’s best players back to Dubai for the city’s third major table tennis tournament in the past two years, having successfully hosted the 2014 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals and the 2015 ITTF World Team Classic. Excitement is building among the UAE’s passionate table tennis community as they look forward to seeing Asia’s elite compete for this coveted trophy.”
Organisers are also launching a series of free activities in the lead-up to the tournament through Ping Pong Dubai, a grassroots initiative which aims to encourage people from all walks of life to pick up a bat and discover that table tennis is a fun and social way to be more active. Events include ‘Free to Play’ at Ripe Market in Zabeel Park, Dubai, every Friday from 18 March to 21 April as well as a Corporate Challenge to mark World Table Tennis Day on 6 April.
The Dubai Asian Cup will take place from 28 April to 30 April at the Zabeel 1 Hall, Dubai World Trade Centre, and is free to attend.