A former Chinese table tennis player claimed he was innocent after a casino in Singapore sued him in Hong Kong for owing it a gambling debt and asking him to pay the money back, Sing Tao Daily reports.
According to a writ filed last week by Marina Bay Sands (MBS) with the Hong Kong High Court and revealed by the media on Monday, Kong Linghui, 41, signed a credit agreement to borrow S$1 million (US$722,341) during the Lunar New Year holiday in 2015.
Kong has paid back part of the money with S$454,375 still unpaid, the writ said.
Kong is known as “ping-pong prince” in China for his gold medals at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games.
In response, Kong said on Tuesday from Düsseldorf, Germany, where he is leading a Chinese women’s team to the World Table Tennis Championships, that he was at the casino with his parents and friends during that period but did not gamble.
He said he signed as a guarantor so that one of his friends could get a loan from the casino operator.
Kong claimed he had no idea that his friend has not cleared the debt.
He said his friends in Macau have helped him pay MBS all of the remaining debt plus interest and lawyer’s fees totaling more than S$500,000.
The Chinese Table Tennis Association announced on Tuesday that it decided to suspend Kong as head coach of the country’s women’s team and replaced him with team trainer Li Sun.
Kong was also ordered to return to China immediately for investigation, according to Apple Daily.
The association said the incident will be dealt with seriously.
A spokesman for China’s General Administration of Sport expressed concern about the incident, saying Kong as a famous athlete and coach, should have paid attention to his reputation.
Meanwhile, Kong received support from some netizens, who questioned why MBS took so long to pursue the debt.
- Contact us at [email protected]