Published October 27, 2011
MONACO --Rivals North and South Korea and India and Pakistan are among 10 nations competing in the latest version of "Ping-Pong diplomacy," but Iran backed out of a chance to play alongside American players.
Iran has been listed for months as a participant in the Nov. 21-22 table tennis event in Qatar.
No reason was given by Iran for its sudden withdrawal, said Valerie Amant, spokeswoman for Monaco-based Peace and Sport, which is helping organize the tournament.
Joel Bouzou, founder of Peace and Sport, said the $100,000 tournament aims to "encourage dialogue between countries, to promote mutual understanding and peace."
Organizers have drawn parallels with the "Ping-Pong diplomacy" of the historic visit by a U.S. team to China in 1971, which led to gradual openings between the two countries.
Iran and the United States often meet in international sporting events, including the Olympics.
Special sports exchanges between two countries also began in 2007 with a trip to Tehran by U.S. wrestlers and have included basketball, table tennis and water polo.