Four Ukrainian players will be participating in the WTT Star Contender Doha 2022. Tetyana Bilenko, Ganna Gaponova, Margaryta Pesotska, and Yaroslav Zhmudenko arrived in Qatar and will start competing on Friday 25 March.
Earlier this month, the ITTF Foundation Director Leandro Olvech had reached out to the President of the Ukraine Table Tennis Federation Oleksandr Zats, to offer assistance and ensure the players from Ukraine could participate in competitions as soon as possible.
After they were identified and located in Europe, the four players received the support of the entire ITTF Group for obtaining their flights to and visa for Qatar.
The ITTF Foundation appointed Galia Dvorak as a Goodwill Ambassador to facilitate communication with the players and the whole Ukraine Table tennis community.
“I cannot wait to see these four players in Doha,” said Dvorak. “It will be a message of hope and resilience. There, they will do what they do best: playing table tennis. For many years, our sport has shown us that it is not only a game but a very powerful tool to unite people. Let’s use it to help the community of Ukrainian athletes who need it so much in this horrible war.”
Born in Kyiv before moving to Spain when she was two, Galia Dvorak is a four-time Olympian, Deputy Chair of the ITTF Athletes Commission and the ETTU Special Projects Operations Manager. In her role, she will support the activities of the ITTF Foundation, and facilitate the communications with the Ukrainian table tennis community.
Since the outbreak of war, the entire ITTF Group went into action to support the Ukraine table tennis community, with the ITTF Foundation leading the efforts. The ITTF Foundation has already activated the Emergency Relief Fund to help those affected by the current ordeal in Ukraine. Several Member Associations offered financial support, to host refugees and to give access to training facilities.
A new online fundraising campaign has been launched today here: https://www.tabletennisunited.org/
Leandro Olvech, ITTF Foundation Director commented, “The ITTF Group remains very concerned and reaffirms its full solidarity with the people of Ukraine. The money we will received will be used to finance the travel costs of the players but also future initiatives to help them train and compete.”
The ITTF Foundation has been monitoring the situation to make sure no one is left behind. Several Ukrainian players have been contacted and a support to them is being planned, including para table tennis players who fled from Ukraine and are currently taking refuge in a table tennis training centre in Prievidza, Slovakia, and other individual athletes who fled from Ukraine to various European destinations.