ITTF President Petra Sörling and Secretary General Raul Calin represented the ITTF at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) General Assembly in Manama, Bahrain, on 28-29 September 2023.
As the supreme authority of the IPC, the General Assembly gathered over 300 attendees from 166 IPC members, including National Paralympic Committees (NPCs), International Federations (IFs), Regional Organisations, and International Organisations of Sport for the Disabled.
On the first day, the General Assembly officially ratified five new members, expanding the IPC’s membership to 208 (183 NPCs). The new members are the NPCs of Bangladesh and Kosovo; Saudi Arabia, previously an NPC and now an integrated NOC (National Olympic Committee)-NPC; and the IFs of the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) and the International Biathlon Union (IBU).
The IPC General Assembly partially suspended the NPCs of Russia and Belarus. This decision suspends all NPC Russia and NPC Belarus membership rights for two years, with the exception that their athletes and related support personnel will be eligible to participate in an individual and neutral capacity in the Paralympic Games. This is subject to athletes and support personnel meeting such conditions of participation set by the IPC Governing Board. NPC Russia and NPC Belarus are also not allowed to organise any sport event/competition involving other IPC members.
The gathering of the Paralympic Movement also included an Association of Para Sports Organisations meeting on 26 September and an IPC Conference on 27 September. Several meetings and exchanges with the IPC President, leaders of different NPCs and IFs occurred, along with a meeting with Bahrain Table Tennis Association Vice-President, Ali Al-Madeh.
After the event concluded, President Petra Sörling praised Shaikh Mohamed bin Duaij Al Khalifa, President of the National Paralympic Committee of Bahrain, for a flawless organisation.
“The ITTF has nurtured close ties with Bahrain over the years. With the IPC General Assembly, we witnessed Bahrain’s commitment to the development of Para sports, and we look forward to working closely with Bahrain NPC and Bahrain Table Tennis Association to expand the footprint of Para table tennis.” — President Petra Sörling.
Both Presidents, Sörling and Shaikh Al Khalifa, alongside Secretaries General Calin and Mr. Ali Al Majed, discussed the positive impacts of integrating Para Table Tennis and Table Tennis in other countries, particularly in coaching, development, and competitions. They explored areas of cooperation between the NPC and the member association to maximize benefits for para-athletes.
The ITTF and Bahrain jointly announced the inaugural ITTF Para Table Tennis event in Manama – the ITTF Fa20 Bahrain Para Open 2024 – scheduled for January next year. The event aims to secure a yearly fixture on the international calendar, and preparations are well underway.
President Petra Sörling reiterated her commitment to advancing Para table tennis globally and looks forward to continued collaboration with the IPC, NPCs, and member associations, fostering an inclusive and thriving environment for athletes of all abilities.