Ping pong players keep their temperatures in check

May 4, 2009

A Chinese table tennis player walks past thermographic imaging camera and monitor during the World Table Tennis Championships in Yokohama

You could ordinarily be forgiven for having sweaty palms and a quickening heartbeat before you play a world championship final.

But not if your sport is ping pong and you are playing in the world table tennis finals in Yokohama.

Players were undergoing thermographic imaging checks upon arrival at the venue following a local flu scare.

Japanese organisers brought in the equipment, similar to machines used at the country’s major airports, after a schoolboy was admitted to hospital.

The case proved to be a false alarm, but neighbouring South Korea has already confirmed its first case of the deadly new influenza A (H1N1) strain, which has killed at least 100 people in Mexico.

Players competing in the world table tennis championships were scanned for signs of increased body temperature, but one official admitted the technique had a potential flaw.

“Competitors do tend to get excited,” Takashi Arakawa told Reuters. “But we count on them not getting excited before they play.”

Fingers crossed.

Picture of Chinese player walking past the thermographic imaging machine in Yokohama by Kim Kyung-Hoon.

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