By Ian Marshall
Para table tennis is no exception, the key date in question being ready for Wednesday 25th August, the first day of play in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Making sure that prior to the first ball being hit in anger in the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, the fact all qualification procedures are completed weeks in advance, is now a matter of priority.
The situation in many countries of the world is still uncertain; therefore, the International Table Tennis Federation and the International Paralympic Committee have agreed to postpone the World Qualification tournament, to be staged in the Tri Lilije Sports Hall in Lasko, Slovenia, from the originally scheduled for Thursday 3rd June to Saturday 5th June.
Similarly, the Bipartite application process has been extended to Friday 9th April.
Very much, Slovenia is the focus of attention as the Para calendar for the year is detailed; from Saturday 29th May to Tuesday 1st June, the venue will stage the established Slovenia Para Open, an event the Tri Lilije Sports Hall has hosted most successfully for the past 15 years.
Thus, the players will not face a tournament as critical as the World Qualification event on their return to action but will be able to compete in an international event that will take place in the same hall, in the same environment and with the same accommodation available.
Understandably interest is high, but the enthusiasm is not just restricted to Tokyo.
Many local organising committees have expressed their intention to hold events in 2021, a potential 17 open international tournaments plus the Paralympic Games form and intense calendar. It is a situation that clearly pleases Pablo Pérez, the ITTF Para Table Tennis Events and Classification Manager but with words of caution.
“Among the local organising committees, we are glad to see that France will host an event in November with the idea of gaining experience before Paris 2024. We are very excited about it but keeping in mind that the ITTF competition department is continuously monitoring the situation of the pandemic worldwide. In the case of a serious incidence of the virus in one specific country or area, the calendar may be changed, dates modified or if necessary, even cancelled.” Pablo Perez
Amendments may still be needed but clearly, there is an atmosphere of adapting, finding solutions, looking forward; as they say: “where there’s a will, there’s a way”, never more true, never more the attitude required.