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Capital's open air ping-pong festival

Plans are being finalised for more than 100 ping pong tables to be set up at landmarks around London in July, including at Trafalgar Square, the London Eye, Soho Square, the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park and Heathrow's Terminal 5.

The move, which is still in discussion would mark the two-year countdown to the 2012 Olympics. It is the brainchild of Colette Hiller of non-profit group Sing London. A similar stunt last year saw 30 pianos placed around the capital, each baring the sign "Play me, I'm yours".

The bats will be emblazoned with: "Please put me back." Shopkeepers will reportedly act as custodians of the paraphenalia, in the vain hope of keeping track of the easy-to-lose balls.

The facilities will be free to the public. Each table top will be custom-designed by an artist. The Chapman brothers, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin have so far contributed.

The capital's mayor, Boris Johnson – who irritated the Chinese by claiming that table tennis was a descendant of the Victorian pastime of "whiff whaff" – will play the first match, against the chairman of the London Games, Lord Coe.