Kasumi Ishikawa, who won a silver medal for Japan at this year’s London Olympics, withdrew from the China-hosted table tennis Women’s World Cup on Wednesday. Organizers for the sporting event, to be held in Huangshi, asked the Olympic winner to voluntarily pull out of the tournament as they were unable to guarantee her safety while China is still overrun with anti-Japanese sentiment. This is a bit similar to earlier this week when the Chinese badminton team forfeited the Japan Open, for some reason also stating fears for players’ safety, however in this case China has at least admitted that it would actually be the Japanese competitor who would be in danger.
Currently training in Beijing, the table tennis World Cup was to be Ishikawa’s first appearance after the Olympics. The 19 year old won the silver medal in the women’s team event, as well as placed fourth in singles, at the London Games, and was scheduled to start playing on Friday. China’s table tennis association warned its Japanese counterpart, however, that Ishikawa’s safety was not a promise at the three-day tournament, and that they consider withdrawing their player.
Masahiro Maehara, the general secretary for the Japan Table Tennis Association, said that in light of the heightened tensions over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, along with the Chinese association’s comments about safety, there was no choice but to remove Ishikawa. It is disappointing, as she was looking forward to playing, Maehara added, but the Chinese association has said it hopes to maintain a friendly relationship with Japan for the future.