30 March 2023
The ITTF Executive Board (EB) endorses the recent statement from the International Olympic Committee regarding status of players with a Russian or Belarusian passport in international competitions.
Having celebrated the 50th anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy recently, the EB notes that the ITTF is acutely aware of the potential dialogues sport can create. Table Tennis has a long history of bringing people together even when political ties have been tenuous. It can build bridges, leading to better understanding among peoples, and open the door for peacebuilding in ways that exclusion and division cannot.
The ITTF reiterates its call for peace and unequivocally condemns the war in Ukraine. It stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and will continue to support the Ukrainian table tennis community, making the utmost effort to ensure all Ukrainian players can participate in table tennis, para table tennis and youth events, worldwide.
A pillar of the Olympic Movement remains the autonomy that sports organisations must have. They should have sole responsibility for deciding which players can participate in international competitions based on their sporting merits and not on political grounds or because of their passports.
Noting this, the EB supports the admission of players with a Russian or Belarusian passport to international table tennis competitions organised by the ITTF and World Table Tennis under strict conditions of neutrality.
The ITTF has taken note of the IOC Executive Board’s Recommended Conditions of Participation for these players. The ITTF will review them and consult with other IFs to create official guidelines that spell out explicit conditions of participation for players and support personnel with a Russian or Belarusian passport.
Noting the current schedule, if all conditions are met, the earliest players could participate in an event is in May. As qualification for the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals Durban 2023 has passed, players with Russian and Belarusian passport will be unable to participate.
While a pathway for players and support officials is being considered, the ITTF will continue to keep sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian governments in place as decided on 1 March 2022. These sanctions include:
- No Russian or Belarusian government or state officials will be allowed in events organised by the ITTF and World Table Tennis
- No Russian or Belarusian national symbols, colours, flags, or anthems will be displayed at events organised by the ITTF and World Table Tennis
The EB would like to extend its gratitude to the IOC for its work and guidance as well as to all the IFs that have worked in collaborative spirit to harmonise the approach regarding the participation of players with Russian and Belarusian passport.