TEH ENG KOON/AFP/Getty Images
China may not be willing to accept Kosovo as an independent state in diplomatic circles, but when the paddles come out, Kosovo's as equal a player as they come. In the first international appearance by a national Kosovo sports team since the breakaway province declared independence from Serbia last Sunday, Kosovo's ping-pong team took to the tables today for the opening rounds of the 2008 World Team Table Tennis Championship, in southern China
Although a full member of the International Table Tennis Federation, Kosovo is unlikely to be Olympic ready by August. In order to participate in Beijing, Kosovo would need full U.N. recognition as an independent state –- something Russia and China are unlikely to allow any time soon. Kosovar athletes will still be allowed to compete, but only under the Olympic flag, a concession actually made for Serbs back in 1992, when the then former Yugoslavia was under U.N. sanction.