Former chief of the Chinese national table tennis team Liu Guoliang said on Tuesday that he feels "responsible" for match boycott by top Chinese players in an international event.
Liu made the remark four days after three players and two coaches pulled out of the China Open in protest of the Chinese Table Tennis Association' s (CTTA) decision to remove Liu as the team' s chief.
Ma Long, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin, the top three in the men's world rankings, made no appearance at the second round singles matches at the ITTF China Open in the southwestern city of Chengdu on June 23.
Before the competition, the three players and two coaches, Qin Zhijian and Ma Lin, posted identical messages on their social media accounts that they "have no desire to fight because they miss their former coach Liu Guoliang".
Liu said on Tuesday on his social medial account that he was not aware of anything before the withdrawals, but he still felt responsible since he had been the men' s team head coach for 14 years and the team chief for four years.
"I think the Chinese sports reform must be enforced," Liu said in the post. "There are indeed many problems in the current management system ... On the path of reform, I will not stand in the way of the ongoing reform, just because I has been removed from my former position.
"I will set the greater interest above everything and will try my best to push forward the reform of Chinese table tennis," he said.
Liu said that Chinese table tennis team are competing for their country, therefore "winning glory for the nation and keeping a good image of the country should never be affected by anything else, not even by personal feelings."
"Don't blame anyone. Don't lose confidence. Don't run away from your responsibilities. We should be united to overcome difficulties," Liu added.