Organised in parallel with the WTT Singapore Grand Smash 2022 tournament, the ITTF Continental Council met on Thursday 17th March. Qualification systems for both the Olympic Games and World Championships formed the agenda.
Created following the 2021 ITTF Annual General Meeting (AGM), the ITTF Continental Council is an extended arm of the ITTF Executive Committee. It comprises Executive Committee members and Presidents of continental federations.
Messrs Khaled El-Salhy, President of the African Table Tennis Federation, Juan Vila, President of ITTF Americas, Khalil Al-Mohannadi, President of the Asian Table Tennis Union, Pedro Moura, Acting President of the European Table Tennis Union, and Graeme Ireland, President of ITTF Oceania, presented reports on the activities of their respective continental federations.
Additional staff have been hired to reinforce output and promote suitable development programmes. It was also reported that Africa launched a new website with dedicated content and so will the Americas soon.
ITTF President Petra Sörling commented, “The Presidents of the continental federations provided valuable insights. It was very good to listen to the work they’re conducting in their regions and how they have all strived to restart activities after these challenging years marked by the pandemic.”
Immediately following, Mounir Bessah, ITTF Member Relations Director, detailed the Master Continental Agreements (MCA), which have allowed the formulation of significant improvements regarding the achievements of governance objectives.
For the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the working group, tasked with formulating qualification procedures presented proposals. They will now be reviewed by the Continental Council.
Gilles de la Bourdonnaye, the table tennis sport manager for the Paris 2024 Organising Committee, was invited to the meeting and provided his first progress report. He will be the primary point of contact for the ITTF; his mandate to coordinate all technical aspects such as the competition area, the competition schedule, the training site, and equipment.
Similarly, the Continental Council received an update regarding the 2023 World Table Tennis Championships Finals in Durban. Scheduled to be staged during a 10-to-14-day period, the entry is as follows:
- Men’s Singles – 128 players
- Women’s Singles – 128 players
- Men’s Doubles – 64 pairs
- Women’s Doubles – 64 pairs
- Mixed Doubles – 64 pairs
Additional to securing a place in Durban via the ITTF Table Tennis World Rankings and wild cards allotted to the host nation, there will be two qualification stages.
The WTTC Regional stage will include events in which athletes compete to qualify for the WTTC Continental stage. The 2022 Caribbean Senior Championships in early March was the first such event; next will be the WTTC Continental Stage during which the leading athletes in each continent will compete for direct entry to the 2023 World Table Tennis Championships Finals.