18 Mar 2020

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) is cooperating with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the build-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ITTF’s efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have been praised by IOC President, Thomas Bach, as he reassured that preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games continue according to plan.

Bach mentioned that table tennis had done a lot since the beginning of the crisis and thanked the ITTF for their work.

Solidarity has certainly been high up in the ITTF’s agenda, as was shown from the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak with messages of support to Wuhan at the German Open in January. Then the Qatar Table Tennis Association hosted the Chinese National Team in February, during the worst period of the virus’ spread across China, and there have been further actions, such as the 600,000 masks which were sent to Wuhan during the most critical period. The ITTF provided assistance with all of these actions.

Bach’s praise arrived during a videoconference held on Tuesday 17 March together with IOC key staff and the Presidents and Secretary Generals of the 33 International Federations participating at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, including ITTF President Thomas Weikert and ITTF Secretary General Raul Calin.

A key topic for discussion was the qualification pathway to Tokyo 2020 and the disruptions caused by COVID-19. As a follow-up to the conference, the ITTF has now called for consultation with the four Continental Federations whose continental qualification events were disrupted, namely Asia, Europe, Latin America and Oceania.

Upon completion of these consultations and once it has been determined whether the World Singles Qualification Tournament, originally planned for 28-31 May in Doha, Qatar, can go ahead, the ITTF Executive Committee will meet once again on Sunday 29 March. Subsequently a formal proposal will be submitted to the IOC, which will ultimately confirm any adjustments required on the qualification pathway. The plan is to complete this process in April.

The ITTF remains committed to delivering world-class table tennis events in Tokyo and also ensuring a fair completion of the qualification process despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The ITTF is fully behind the IOC decisions. Solidarity is the key word and we have to tackle this problem seriously and to seek solutions. We need to work with flexibility and our staff is in contact with the IOC Sports Department, led by Kit McConnell, to find alternatives.” – ITTF President, Thomas Weikert

“The ITTF will continue being loyal partners of the IOC during this difficult period and, in coordination with the continental federations, member associations, our tournament organisers and, very importantly, with the engagement of our athletes through the ITTF Athletes Commission, we will keep doing our best to ensure that the qualification process for the Olympic Games is completed in the fairest possible way given the circumstances.” – ITTF Secretary General, Raul Calin

The ITTF will provide further updates on all upcoming decisions in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the international table tennis event schedule.

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