by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer
Present for the occasion, alongside Khaled El-Salhy, President of the African Table Tennis Federation, was Egypt’s Dr Alaa Meshref, ITTF Executive Vice President; he was delighted that as a result of a positive reaction from players who had attended in the past, the tournament had been upgraded to Challenge Plus.
“We are happy to have a tournament which the fans coming to watch; more players eager to come to Nigeria. We are excited with what is happening in Nigeria when it comes to table tennis and we are thrilled by the commitment of those involved in the organisation of this championship. We believe that in no distant time, the tournament will rival others in Europe and Asia in terms of prize money. We must commend the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation and Lagos State Government for what they are doing for the sport. ITTF will continue to support this tournament. It is a model for others in the world.” Alaa Meshref
Likewise, Engr. Ishaku Tikon, the President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation was in a buoyant mood, pleased that entries had been received from 32 national associations.
“We are grateful to our sponsors and we want to thank the sports-loving governor of Lagos State for his commitment to the tournament. I welcome every player to Nigeria this year.” Ishaku Tikon
Praise for Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos State; likewise sees the tournament progressing from strength to strength, recognizing the efforts of Wahid Oshodi, the Chair of the Local Organising Committee.
“We want to continue to raise the bar so that other countries can continue to come to Lagos to compete. We will not relent in our efforts to empower our youths which has been part of our campaign promises that we will support our youth to actualise their dream through sports. Wahid Oshodi has made Lagos State proud and taken table tennis to great heights in Nigeria and Africa at large. Our commitment to the sport will not dwindle and we assure ITTF that we will do our best to make the tournament more glamorous in coming years.” Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Organising such events, state support is vital; it is a fact that Dr Alaa Meshref was quick to recognise:
“We are proud to be associated with Lagos State and we want thank you for your support; it goes to show that you are indeed a sports loving governor. ITTF sees the Nigeria Open as one of major tournaments in the world and we will continue to do our best to support the tournament.” Alaa Meshref
In addition present at the gathering was Khaled El-Salhy, President of the Africa Table Tennis Federation, Femi Hamzat, Deputy Governor; Hakeem Muri-Okunola, Head of Service and Jermaine Sanwo-Olu, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Foreign Relations and Diaspora, Jermaine Sanwo-Olu.