Less than two months distant, on Sunday 15th January, the Opening Ceremony will signal the start of the 20th World Veteran Championships; the destination is Muscat, the capital and largest city in the Sultanate of Oman.
Make no mistake, preparations are in an advanced state, ready to welcome its guests.
Sajjad Baqer, the Tournament Director, is confident that everyone who attends the tournament, in whatever capacity, will leave with pleasant memories impinged in their minds.
“We are almost ready, registration is going smoothly, we have met regularly with hotel managers to make sure that everything runs well, and the players all leave with a smile. Visit Oman, I am sure you will want to come back!” Sajjad Baqer
The premises are modern, high standard, state-of-the-art.
“In the main hall we will have some 98 tables supplied by our sponsor Stag; the Exhibition Centre in which the tournament will take place is new and looks just like a five-star hotel. It’s an amazing place, amazing everything!” Sajjad Baqer
Attention is being paid to every conceivable detail; throughout the preparation process no stone has been left unturned.
“Hard work but if the process is correct, it’s not that difficult. We have a semi-government company organised to look after the veterans and volunteers. We have shuttle buses to the airport arranged; our aim is to make everything easy.” Sajjad Baqer
It is a landmark tournament, the first in the Middle East, the first under the auspices of the International Table Tennis Federation , the first when the tournament has staged mixed doubles. Notably to date over 1,000 entries have been received from 70 member associations.
“The mixed doubles will be staged within the schedule, not on the free day; there are plenty of places to visit within a one-hour drive of Muscat. It is one of the best areas for tourism; there is 3,000 kilometres of coastline, mountains, desert, fishing and snorkelling.” Sajjad Baqer
Ideally located, Oman offers a unique experience, the local organising committee not only has administrative matters under control, it promises the warmest of welcomes at a time of the year when the climate is akin to a European Spring Day.
“Players are coming for enjoyment, we will not only be at the airport to meet you; we will be at the gate, everyday there will be surprises, good surprises, Omani dancing will be a feature; whatever you want you can do, we don’t have rules and regulations to stop people enjoying themselves. We have magnificent four and five-star hotels.” Sajjad Baqer
Most importantly, access to the country is straightforward; for the majority, it is visa on arrival.
“For those who need a visa; usually for China, no more than one week, for the United States, 15 days. We have organised ITTF Youth Contender tournaments, so we have experience; we can organise a visa in one day, sometimes even in one hour. It’s no problem. We are supported by the government, one member of our committee is from visa immigration, he will handle matters. I am 100 per cent sure we can deal with all visa issues!” Sajjad Baqer