Taiwanese tennis star Hsieh Su-wei ruled ineligible for Tokyo Games

10/28/2020 05:33 PM
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Tennis player Hsieh Su-wei. CNA file photo
Tennis player Hsieh Su-wei. CNA file photo

Taipei, Oct. 28 (CNA) Taiwan's chance to win a medal in tennis at the Tokyo Olympics next year if they are held suffered a major blow recently after women's doubles world No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei (謝淑薇) was ruled to be ineligible for the games by the sport's governing body.

The 34-year-old Hsieh dropped the bombshell in a Facebook post earlier this month when she said she had received a notice from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) rejecting her appeal to gain eligibility for next year's Olympics.

In her post, Hsieh said that even though her ranking qualified her for the 2021 games, she was deemed to be ineligible due to "a mistake involving the Fed Cup" held this March.

Hsieh is currently ranked No. 66 in women's singles and No. 1 in women's doubles. Those who rank among the top 56 in singles and top 10 in doubles are eligible to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.

Though outside the top 56, Hsieh's singles ranking would have been good enough to get her into the singles draw because no more than four players from the same country can qualify.

Another qualification, however, is that a player has to take part in at least two Fed Cup events, including one in 2019 or 2020, during the latest Olympic cycle.

Hsieh was set to represent Taiwan in the Fed Cup in Dubai in early March, but she ended up leaving the tournament without playing a single match.

Defending her decision to leave the March event, Hsieh said in her Facebook post that she had informed her coach before the competition that she would not be able to complete the tournament.

Whatever the reason, that decision and her withdrawal from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio after a blowup with a local tennis official weighed heavily in the ITF's decision.

In a letter the ITF sent to Taiwan's Chinese Taipei Tennis Association (CTTA) on Oct. 14 made pubic by Hsieh in her Facebook post, the ITF said it deemed Hsieh ineligible for the Tokyo Games because she did not demonstrate sufficient commitment to competitions.

It specifically cited her recent absence from the Fed Cup and the fact that she did not compete in the 2016 games.

The ITF said Hsieh withdrew on the morning of the first day of play in the Rio Games without providing sufficient information to justify her withdrawal.

According to ITF records, Hsieh had 10 career Fed Cup nominations and one Olympic appearance so far.

Hsieh said she pulled out from both the singles and doubles in Rio after a heated argument with a Taiwanese delegation official but she chose not to tell the ITF to avoid airing dirty laundry in public.

The Taiwanese tennis ace announced in August she would not compete again this year citing her ankle injury and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hsieh is ranked world No. 1 in the Women's Tennis Association's doubles category and rose as high as No. 23 in singles.

In winning the 2013 Wimbledon and 2014 French Open doubles championships with Chinese partner Peng Shuai, she became the first player from Taiwan to win a tennis Grand Slam title of any kind.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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