Ultimate Table Tennis unlikely to take place this year due to Covid-19, says Sharath Kamal

The fourth edition of Ultimate Table Tennis, which was proposed to be held in India from August 14 to 31, is unlikely to take place this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

With sporting events yet to start in the country and the International Table Tennis Federation itself still not certain about the resumption of professional tour, it was not possible for the organisers, 11sports, to go ahead with the proposed plan of having it in August.

UTT, which began in 2017, was to take place after the Tokyo Olympics, which has now been moved to next year because of the pandemic.

“You need permissions from the state and central government, check players availability and discussions with the TTFI (Indian federation), ITTF have to take place. I see none of that happening in the near future,” former player and 11sports director, Kamlesh Mehta, told PTI.

“We had only zeroed in on the August window but then pandemic happened and we could not go ahed with our plans. We would still want it to happen later this year but will have to talk to ITTF for the new dates as we always decide our schedule depending on the world body’s calendar.

“We also need to discuss with the TTFI. But right now noboy has any clarity, including the ITTF. We can only wait and watch,” the Arjuna awardee added.

Limited flight connectivity is also an issue amid the pandemic and is likely to remain so in the near future even if the foreign players wish to travel to India.

UTT got an official window in the ITTF calendar for the first two years but with professional season getting busier, it did not get one last year.

“As much as I want UTT to happen, I doubt if it can happen this year considering the current situation,” said India’s top-ranked player Sharath Kamal.

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Though Chinese players have stayed away from taking part in the UTT, the event has attracted top players from Germany, Sweden, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong and Portugal.

The league has also provided much needed exposure to the budding talent in India besides quality competition to the country’s best players, including Sharath Kamal, G Sathiyan and Manika Batra.

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