At the start of 2023, the ITTF Umpires and Referees Committee (URC), together with the support of the wider ITTF, introduced the online version for the Advanced Rules Exam (ARE), which is the next step for an umpire after having passed the online International Umpire Exam, introduced in 2020.
It has since been successfully implemented three times. In January 2023, the ITTF URC offered the first online ARE in Linz, of which 7 out of 12 candidates passed the exams. During the next exams at the WTT Champions Xinxiang event, 34 candidates took part, while at the WTT Youth Contender event in Metz, 11 candidates registered for it, all of whom passed. One of the candidates, Park Hyung-Geun from Republic of Korea, became only the second person in the world to score full marks in the exam.
The ARE is an important stepping stone for umpires to establish their career pathway. Umpires seeking qualification as a Blue Badge umpire are required to undergo Advanced Umpire Training (AUT) and pass the Advanced Rules Examination (ARE). Existing Blue Badge umpires are required to undergo evaluation periodically to retain their status. Additionally, umpires aiming to complete the Gold Badge must take this exam once every three years, making the interest in it particularly high.
In line with the drive for innovation, the online ARE is now more accessible and convenient for aspiring umpires around the world to participate in, on top of eliminating the need for time-consuming administrative paperwork and additional manpower like exam invigilators, and will lead to higher frequency of the exams, and saving on operational costs.
Werner Thury, ITTF URC Chairperson, commented, “The online Advanced Rules Exam represents another step forward in digitalisation and provides more opportunities to propel umpires to the next stage of their careers. The excellent results in Metz are proof that our match officials are well prepared and ready to develop their skills to ensure professional performance in the field of play.”