Much like its counterpart in football, the European Champions League in our sport is organized by the European governing body of table tennis, ETTU and their hard work over the past months has already seen them deliver a fascinating women’s club event over the last week with Berlin Eastside emerging as winners. Now, the men’s clubs will play for historic glory as their event begins today in Dusseldorf, Germany with the final being played out on December 18.
It is worth noting that the flagship club competition in Europe was only able to commence this month after the development and implementation of strict COVID-19 safety measures by the ETTU and the two host cities, in order to protect the health of athletes and their teams.
This step has been the most critical point of action under the leadership of ETTU President, Mr. Igor Levitin in these tough times.
“It is wonderful to once again see Europe’s best athletes competing against one another at the highest level. It’s been a challenging year for the sport but the return of the Champions League will provide a source of inspiration for athletes, fans and sponsors as we look to make 2021 a truly memorable year. With the Olympic Games and the return of our regular competition calendar to look forward to, we must build on the momentum of this month’s competitions and keep providing the platform for athletes to reach their full potential. I want to thank our friends in Austria and Germany for their hard work to stage these events in difficult circumstances. The collaboration and unity within the ETTU family is great to see, as this is what will ensure a stronger outlook for European table tennis in 2021 and beyond.” Mr. Igor Levitin, ETTU President
Bringing all athletes together in the bubble format has so far been a success for Mr. Levitin and the ETTU – and it is something that has proven to be the safest way to restart events as the world moves into a ‘new normal’.
Due to the new environment of play, not only are there significant tournament format mode changes for all teams, but there are also a few new rules introduced at the event. There will be no more coaching breaks after games one and three and the sudden death decisive game will also be implemented to conclude matches.
In addition, there are hygiene-related adjustments to the regulations. This includes that there are no more sides to be changed, the balls are exchanged after each individual match and there is to be minimal contact between players during and after the match.
These difficult but necessary decisions taken by Mr. Levitin and the ETTU have resulted in a safe and smooth Women’s Champions League event, and are thus going to be equally important as the men’s clubs compete in the coming week at the ARAG CentreCourt in Düsseldorf.
The ITTF would like to congratulate ETTU and Mr. Levitin on this commendable return of this niche competition, as well as wish them the very best.