The so-called ‘Ping Pong Prince’ visited the Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino for four days in February 2015 with friends and family members, and it was during that visit that he is said to have arranged for members of his party to receive gambling chips in his name. He put a deposit down with the casino to secure the arrangement, but the player maintains that he himself didn’t gamble at the venue, and was unaware that there was any money outstanding.
Kong was in Germany for the table tennis world championships when the lawsuit was brought to public attention by the media, and the association which governs the sport in China was quick to suspend him as head coach. The association issued a statement, saying that: ‘China has a zero-tolerance attitude toward behavior which violates sporting ethics and laws,’ and requested that Kong return home to respond to the allegations.
Making his own statement on the Chinese microblogging service Weibo, Kong said that he only learned of the disputed debt through the media reports, and that he has requested the person owing the money to come forward and explain the situation.
The suspension of Kong won’t have helped the Chinese women’s national team as they compete in the tournament, but it would still be a shock if they don’t emerge victorious. China has the best record by far in the world championships, and the nation looks set to maintain its winning ways in Düsseldorf this week.