Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor, Abuja
Walid Oshodi has been appointed by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) as a member of a five-man Task Force committee saddled with the responsibility to monitor the situation and coordinate efforts to allow Ukrainian players to continue participating in international events as soon as possible.
The ITTF in its annual Executive Committee meeting held in Singapore from March 15 and 16, discussed several key issues including the war in Ukraine, in which the world tennis governing body had earlier imposed sanctions on Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in any tennis event The Trumpet gathered.
The ITTF Executive Committee meeting which took place simultaneously with the WTT Singapore Smash tournament had its members applaud the event that unanimously agreed it was highly organised with a classic presentation noting that a new era has dawned.
However, the Task Force members apart from Nigeria’s Wahid OSHODI who is an Executive Committee member in charge of Communications & Protocol, Governance, and World Ranking, are Petra Sörling, ITTF President, fellow Executive Committee colleague, Khalil Al-Mohannadi, Zoran Primorac, Athletes’ Commission Chair, and Steve Dainton, ITTF Group Chief Executive Officer.
Earlier in March, the ITTF released a statement barring Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in any tennis event in the world in solidarity with Ukrainians over the former’s invasion of Ukraine.
ITTF concerned with the development of the war in Ukraine announced on March 1 that Russia and Belarus have been sanctioned from tennis events after it consulted with the sports community and followed the recommendation by the International Olympic Committee (ICO).
The statement reads: “The ITTF Group remains highly concerned by the outbreak of war in Ukraine. It expresses its solidarity with the people of Ukraine and wishes to send a powerful message of peace and unity to the entire world.
“The ITTF Executive Committee met on March 1st, 2022, after consulting with the sports community, the committee decided to follow the recommendations made by the IOC Executive Board with immediate effect.
“Therefore, until further notice, no Russian or Belarusian players and officials will be invited or allowed in events hosted by the ITTF Group, and no Russian or Belarusian national symbols, colours, flags, or anthems will be displayed. Please note no ITTF Group events are currently scheduled in Russia or Belarus.
“The ITTF Athletes’ Commission also expressed their deep concern and sympathy, and fully support these decisions.
“The ITTF Group will continue to monitor the situation and will review its decision in light of future developments,” the statement concluded.
In addition to the key issues discussed was the introduction of World Table Tennis where the Executive Committee is reviewing the current limit of 40 teams for the World Teams Championships Finals.
The committee stressed that it will extend the discussions with the organisers of the Busan 2024 Organising Committee and also add up the issue to the agenda of the next meeting of the board of directors.
The ITTF Executive Committee is composed of the following with nine members elected at the ITTF Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 24th November 2021 in Houston, Texas. They joined the ITTF Athletes Commission Chair, Zoran Primorac, and IOC Member Ryu Seungmin to form the complete ITTF Executive Committee.
Furthermore, portfolios allocated during the Executive Committee meeting held on Saturday 29th January 2022, were as follows: Petra Sorling: Strategic Plan, Human Resources, Sustainability, Olympic and Paralympic Games, Academies, External Relations, Member Relations, Diversity (Gender, Universality), Khalil AL-Mohannadi: Continental Council, Events, World Championships, Alaor Azevedo: Health, Innovation, Para Table Tennis, and Liu Guoliang: Commercial (WTT), High Performance, ITTF Museum.
Other portfolios are Masahiro Maehara: Entourage, Home of Table Tennis, Sport Science, Dr Alaa Meshref: Athletes, Development, IT & Digitalisation, Roland Natran: Finance, Veterans, Wahid Oshodi: Communications & Protocol, Governance, World Ranking, Graham Symons: Clean Sport / Integrity, Equipment, Sport for All, Zoran Primoroc: Athletes Commission (together with Dr Alaa Meshref), Ryu Seungmin: Olympic and Paralympic Games (together with Petra Sorling).