40 years ago, "Ping Pong Diplomacy" between the US and China made headlines around the world. On tuesday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee picked up his ping-pong paddle and welcomed the Chinese delegation team on a table tennis table inside the City Hall to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the event.


The delegation consists of table tennis Olympians, including members of the original team that played in the 1971 matches. The celebration was organized by Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and the Consulate General of China. Mayor Ed Lee also declared July 5th, 2011 to be “The Ping Pong Diplomacy Day.”

Apart from the celebration, the gathering of table tennis players from the two countries became a good opportunity to discuss the future of the sports in United States. The delegation held a Sports and
Diplomacy Forum in San Francisco Main Library, where Judy Hoarfrost and George Braithwaite, two of the US table tennis team members who visited China in 1971 with President Nixon, talked about the development of Ping Pong as a sport in America.

Braithwaite, the former Vice President of the US Table Tennis Association, said table tennis remains to be a highly individualized sports in the country, especially compared to football, baseball and
basketball, which were commercialized and as a result, the scale, the number of players, and the level of public participation in these games were much higher.

He hoped more people will pay attention to table tennis and make commercial investments in this sport. But Cai Zhenhua, President of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, said America has lots of young table tennis players with great potential, like Ariel Hsing-- who won the Women Open Singles Champion in 2010 U.S. National Championship at the age of 15. Cai welcomed Hsing to come to China for training in the future.

To encourage more people to play table tennis, Ed Lee also announced that 11 table tennis tables will be available during the Sunday Street event in Chinatown on September 18., representing the 11 districts in San Francisco.