Three out of four Vietnamese table tennis players failed to turn up for qualifying matches at the World Table Tennis Championship from May 8-16 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
With the main purpose of gaining match experience in big tournaments, four of the best Vietnamese men's table tennis players were sent to participate in the competition. However, even without any expectation of winning, their performance was abysmal.
Doan Kien Quoc was the only one made his way to the last 32. And he didn't miss any qualifying game while the three others missed one or more games in the qualifying rounds.
Tran Tuan Quynh and Dinh Quang Linh missed a game each while Nguyen Thanh Luan missed both his qualifying matches.
Arriving home on Tuesday, Quoc said, "The players were to blame in most cases. As you know, the time zone difference and a poor command of foreign language made it hard for the Vietnamese players.
"That was why Tuan Quynh, Quang Linh and Thanh Luan didn't arrive on time for their matches. The rules were very strict. You would be removed from the game if you were five minutes late."
Kien Quoc was punctual because he was lucky to play in the afternoon and had more time to deal with the situation.
Despite some financial support from the organizers, the Vietnamese men table tennis team's trip to the Netherlands cost a total of more than US$10,000. Yet three of the four players ended up as spectators rather than competitors.
It is not the first time that this has happened. In South Korea in 2005, in Croatia in 2007 and in Russia last year, Vietnamese male table tennis players missed the games citing similar reasons.