The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has decided to suspend all tournaments involving international travel until June 30 amidst the uncertainty owing to the coronavirus pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.
After the previous meeting on March 16, the latest ITTF Executive Committee meeting took place on Sunday, where the decision to freeze the world rankings was also taken.
“Freezing of ITTF Ranking lists as of March 2020 and further evaluation of all implications related to the postponement of events, travel restrictions and other complications, with scope for further decisions on potentially necessary adjustments,” read one of the points in the ITTF statement.
It was also revealed that while a new date for the 2020 World Team Table Tennis Championships will be announced “in the coming week”, after the new dates for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympics were revealed.
Olympic qualification procedure
The Olympics will see a total of 172 table tennis players playing across five events - men’s and women’s singles and team events and the mixed team event.
Each NOC is allowed to enter up to six athletes - two male and two female athletes in singles events, one men's and one women's team in team events, and one pair in mixed doubles.
With the Indian table tennis team being unable to qualify in the team events from the 2019 ATTU Asian Championships held in Indonesia as well as the 2020 World Qualification event held in Portugal, their only chances remain in the singles and the mixed team event.
The Asia Qualification Event for the men’s singles, women’s singles and the mixed team categories, which were supposed to be held in Bangkok, is now awaiting a modified date after the escalation of coronavirus halted all sporting events.
What this means for Indian table tennis players
Apart from the qualification events, ITTF also falls back on the world rankings for a direct qualification of the table tennis players to fill up the remaining places.
India’s ace men paddlers Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Achanta Sharath Kamal are placed 31st and 38th on the ITTF World Rankings for seniors’ men singles event, thereby almost sealing their Tokyo Olympic berths.
“The qualification should be a formality considering my ranking. If the Olympics is happening on time, the world ranking should ensure that Sharath (Achanta Kamal) and I make the cut easily,” a confident G Sathiyan told The Times of India in a recent interview.
India’s star women paddler Manika Batra, however, is placed 62nd on the women’s singles rankings and will be hoping to have a good run of tournaments apart from the women singles’ Asian Qualification Event in order to make it to the Tokyo Olympics.