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Apr 6, 2022

Ping-pong Diplomacy Between Belize and Guatemala?

Today is celebrated as World Table Tennis Day.  It is also the fiftieth anniversary of “ping-pong diplomacy” which refers to the exchange of table tennis players between the United States and People’s Republic of China in the 1970s.  The event paved the way for President Richard Nixon to visit Beijing in 1972 and has been seen as a key turning point in relations between the United States and China.  In Belize, at the Mexico Center this afternoon, Belizean and Guatemalan athletes gathered to celebrate the sport of table tennis and hope that it would also serve to strengthen relations between both countries.

 

Arturo ‘Tux’ Vasquez, President, Belize Table Tennis Association

Arturo ‘Tux’ Vasquez

“World Table Tennis Day is on April sixth, every year.  The International Table Tennis Federation started doing it in 2015.  Today is also the International Day of Sports, internationally, but they have done this World Table Tennis Day since 2015, so it’s five years now.  Today it’s happening in two hundred and twenty-seven countries in four continents, it’s happening everywhere and all that is required is for each country to do some sort of activity for this day.  The International Table Tennis Federation is  celebrating fifty years of ping-pong diplomacy.  This is when the USA and China met and made some arrangements and became friends again.  This year, what the ITTF decided to do was to use a theme where you’re promoting solidarity, togetherness and all of that.  So I, along with the ITTF of the Americas came up with the idea that perhaps we can do something between Belize and Guatemala.  Initially we wanted to do something at the border but that, as you can understand, was a little bit difficult to coordinate, especially from the Guatemalan side, they are a whole lot farther from the border than we are.  So I thought this would have been as good.  So that’s really what we are doing today and the Guatemalan ambassador has been invited to join me in this event.”

 

Roberto Archila

Roberto Archila, Guatemalan Ambassador

“We have a very good relationship between Belize and Guatemala.  Our social relationship, we have more than we can imagine.  The exchange between our people shows that we don’t need diplomacy.  In the area of Melchor de Mencos and Benque Viejo, we have a lot of people crossing everyday to work.  They have families and make business.  Then actually the sport is something that is very important for the relationship between Belize and Guatemala and it’s a very good opportunity to celebrate.  It’s good for the relationship between Belize and Guatemala, this idea of the International Federation of Table Tennis.”


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