SHANGHAI, China -- Table tennis world champion Liu Shiwen has been controversially left out of China's women's singles line-up for the Tokyo Olympics and will instead play doubles and team events.
The 30-year-old won a team title as China swept all four gold medals at the Rio 2016 Games, but she has never won the Olympic singles crown in her trophy-laden career.
China announced a six-member squad on Sunday, with reigning Olympic champion Ma Long and world number one Fan Zhendong the two men's singles players.
Liu, crowned singles world champion in 2019, will play the mixed doubles and women's team events. World number one Chen Meng and Sun Yingsha were named for the women's singles.
"There are too many unsure things and challenges, and we need a squad full of experience and confidence, adding to top-class individual skills," Xinhua news agency quoted Liu Guoliang, president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, as saying.
The omission of Liu, a former number one who is now seventh in the world, from the singles sparked heated discussion on China's Twitter-like Weibo, with one hashtag on the subject racking up nearly 300 million views.
China are supreme in Olympic table tennis, winning 28 out of the 32 golds awarded so far.
The coronavirus-postponed 2020 Olympics will take place from July 23 to August 8.
© Agence France-Presse