Familiar faces on the international scene and in light of the current situation, most welcomed faces; thanks to the support of the ITTF Foundation, the Ukraine quartet comprising Margaryta Pesotska, Tetyana Bilenko, Ganna Gaponova and Yaroslav Zhmudenko competed in the current WTT Star Contender Doha.
Furthermore, on Monday 28th March they met high ranking ITTF officials who comprise the recently formed Task Force, designed to monitor the situation in the eastern European country.
In addition to Petra Sörling, present to greet the players was Khalil Al-Mohannadi (ITTF Deputy President), alongside Steve Dainton (ITTF Group Chief Executive Officer), Raul Calin (ITTF Secretary General), Galia Dvorak (ITTF Goodwill Ambassador), and Matt Pound (WTT Managing Director).
A united front offering support to Ukrainian players is very much the ITTF mandate; Petra Sörling underling that fact.
“The ITTF reaffirms its full solidarity with the people of Ukraine. We will continue assisting the Ukrainian table tennis community, making sure the players can train and compete, and supporting initiatives to provide longer-term solutions. Our Foundation will make sure no one is left behind and we will demonstrate that table tennis is first and foremost a family.” Petra Sörling.
Tetyana Bilenko told how competing helped them feel better.
“When we were playing our matches here in Qatar, our minds were just focused on the matches and we didn’t think about the war. This made us very happy. We were sad not to come to Singapore for the WTT Grand Smash, but it is good to be able to compete now in Doha. It was nice to be back in the sporting environment and with many friends.” Tetyana Bilenko
Welcome guests in Qatar and once again it is most welcoming host in the guise of Khalil Al-Mohannadi, who turned every stone to make their participation possible.
“Considering what they are going through, it was extremely important for all of us to ensure these players could be here in Doha, for the WTT Star Contender. The Local Organising Committee worked hand in hand with the ITTF Group to fast-track the entry of the players in the country and in the tournament. ” Khalil Al-Mohannadi
Steve Dainton also hailed the participation of the four Ukrainian players and hopes for a rapid return to peace.
“We are delighted to see these players here. It is a strong message of hope and resilience. The ITTF Task Force will keep monitoring the situation and co-ordinating efforts to allow Ukrainian players to continue participating at international events. Previous decisions and future developments will be constantly evaluated. Today marks the first step toward having our table tennis events return to normal.” Steve Dainton
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.