Countries divided by ideological and political difference; some stiff rife, some now less noticeable with the passage of time, stood side by side in the Aspire Academy in Doha on Tuesday 22nd November 2011.
Ten teams participated in the first ever “Peace and Sport Cup”.
Each country provided one male and one female player in a Men’s and Women’s Doubles competition; the countries being Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, People's Republic of China, Japan, India, Pakistan, Russia, the United States of America, France and hosts Qatar.
The event brought a culmination of a two day programme to a successful conclusion; the first day having witnessed a visit to a local school and a dinner in the evening at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.
His Excellency Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulraman Al-Thani, the Secretary General of the Qatar National Olympic Committee, Wilfried Lemke, the Special Advisor to the United Nations, the Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, Joël Bouzou, the President and Founder of Peace and Sport and Adham Sharara, the President of the International Table Tennis Federation, were all present alongside star names of the sport.
Peace and Sport, "L’Organisation pour la Paix par le Sport” is a neutral international organisation based in the Principality of Monaco under the High Patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco.
The stated aim is to use sport as a vehicle for promoting peace in areas of the world that have suffered from conflict or extreme poverty.
In Doha table tennis was very much taking the lead in fulfilling those goals, very much in a similar fashion to 40 years earlier when the United States Table Tennis Team had accepted an invitation from China and a thaw in relations between the United States of America and China began.
Four decades later, the Doha, Ping Pong Diplomacy was re-enacted and Butterfly played a part.
Much attention centred around the fact that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Republic of Korea joined forces; they did and they were delighted to partner their names and there was overall unifying factor.
Both countries field national teams supported by Butterfly.
In Doha, the Butterfly spread its wings, it created harmony between two differing ideologies, divisions of latitude were crossed, the Cold War was resigned to history; peace reigned through sport, the sport of table tennis.