82-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency
Day 82 June 11 - Growing Pains in the ITTF
As this year’s AGM, there was much fanfare over the increase in size of the ITTF to 220 national associations. Similarly, this WTTTC’s was hailed as having the largest entry ever, with 118 Men’s Teams and 95 Women’s Teams. At that same time, there was an outstanding proposal to be taken up before the ITTF’s Board of Directors that would reduce the size of future World Team Table Tennis Championships from the current open entry to a fixed size of 72 teams for both genders.
Mr. Chris Band, JTTA President, asked to be recognized in the waning moments of the AGM. He delivered the speech below, which he was so kind to forward to me.
As a preface, I would also like to convey the following message from Mr. Band: “I am not seeking re-election as President of the JTTA at our AGM on July 2nd after having served in the post for 9 years on the trot. It would be good to mention this in the article along with the fact that the views expressed are my personal ones and not of the JTTA. Thanks.”
Speech made by JTTA President Chris Band at ITTF AGM
30th April, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan
Mr. President, Distinguished Members of the ITTF Executive and Council, Fellow Delegates.
First of all, may I thank our hosts for these wonderful World Championships.
In 2011 I heard the news that the JTTA had been awarded the WTTTC in 2014 and I immediately fell into a total and blind panic. My very sensible wife reminded me, however, that JTTA was the same abbreviation for the Japan Table Tennis Association as well as the Jersey Table Tennis Association!! Our Island of 100,000 inhabitants and an Association of some 120 members would have struggled somewhat!!
Afterwards, however, it made me think about the table tennis family and that the great nation of Japan and the small federation of Jersey are both equal in the eyes of the ITTF. Possibly the most important factor in equality is that our small island can currently compete in the WTTTC along with every other federation in the world, large or small, at the same time at the same championships. This is a totally unique occurrence in world sport making table tennis the envy of others and a guiding light in building and nurturing development and participation everywhere without exception or exclusion.
Our sport has a fantastic brother- and sisterhood and great fellowship borne from years of mutual respect and nurturing of the sport throughout the whole world. We must surely accept that the players must come first and foremost. So my plea for the smaller nations to the great table tennis family for all these reasons is not to exclude federations from competing freely and without prior qualification.
May I finish by saying that I respectfully urge the AGM and the ITTF family to defend and support the rich diversity of total participation in our wonderful sport every two years at the WTTTCs.
Let us honour what has been said. Let us “Break down barriers,” and not start to create them. Please do not “Stop the dream.”
Additional Post-WTTTC’s Remarks, June 4, 2014
The increase from 72 to 96 was a good result but sadly in my personal opinion it may only be a short stay of execution? The comments I heard from many after the AGM seemed to indicate that this was the perception. However, we will all have to wait and see.
Small federations will now need to find a different way of qualifying. Jersey will be going through the European route but this will be costly and there is nothing in place yet as far as I know.
I think the ETTU are working very hard on the issue though and Richard Scruton, in particular, is a first rate gentleman, who along with his colleagues, is looking to manage the problem.
As regards smaller federations outside Europe I have no idea as to how they will look to solve the issue.
Perhaps contact teams from Nepal, Palestine, Barbados, Guam, etc. and ask them.
I hope this helps.
As Mr. Band’s remarks indicate, the ITTFs Board of Directors debated the topic, amended the proposal, and took a vote. The final decision was to cap off entries at 96 teams for both genders in future World Team Table Tennis Championships.
Tomorrow ITTF President Adham Sharara will address this controversial topic.