Decision on Oman’s bid in Budapest next week
Oman sports could take a giant stride as one of the top sports destination in the world if the sultanate wins the bid to host the 21st ITTF World Veteran Championships (WVC) in 2022, a decision to be taken at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the Hungarian capital of Budapest on April 22.
Oman is one of the three countries which have been short-listed for the largest table tennis event in the world as it draws nearly 4,000 players from more than 100 countries. The other two countries in the fray are South Korea and Malaysia.
The AGM will be held on the sidelines of the World Table Tennis Championships, which will be held from April 21-28. The world’s biggest table tennis event of the year will showcase the very best players that the sport has to offer.
Significantly, the AGM will also see votes cast to decide where the 2021 and 2022 World Championships will take place. Morocco and US are battling it out to host the 2021 edition. Meanwhile, bidding to stage the 2022 World Championships are China, Japan and Portugal.
Earlier last month, ITTF president Thomas Weikert, during his visit to Muscat, had told Muscat Daily that 'Oman is ready to host much bigger international tournaments'.
Weikert was the guest of honour when Muscat hosted the ITTF Challenge Plus Oman Open in March, a tournament that had the participation of 160 paddlers from 40 countries.
If Oman wins the 2022 WVC bid, the Oman Table Tennis Committee (OTTC) chairman, Abdullah Bamkhalef, has said that the venue for the worlds will be the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC), which can accommodate 200 tables.
Bamkhalef will lead Oman’s delegation to Budapest and will be accompanied by Sajjad al Lawati, the OTTC secretary, and Mohammed al Kalbani, OTTC board member.
Bamkhalef said, “Oman's stature as a top-class venue for table tennis events is growing following the success of the ITTF Challenge Plus last month.
“Later in August, we will host the International Hopes (U12) Week in Salalah during the khareef season. It will feature top boys and girls from each continent and Oman as host will get an opportunity to field a boy and a girl in the camp.”
The third major tournament this year will be the ITTF World Junior Circuit with Muscat hosting the ITTF Junior Circuit Premium Oman Junior & Cadet Open from October 24-28.
Mandhari, Balushi to participate
Oman’s experienced players - Haitham al Mandhari and Muhannad al Balushi - will represent the sultanate at the worlds. The duo will be accompanied by national coach Mohammed Atoum of Jordan. Mandhari and Balushi will compete in singles and doubles.
While Haitham had participated in the worlds in Germany in 2017, it will be Muhannad’s debut. Both the paddlers had participated in the ITTF Challenge Plus Oman Open last month but made early exits.