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UTT postponed to next year due to COVID-19 pandemic

Mumbai

The fourth edition of Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) was on Friday postponed to next year due to concerns over health and safety of players amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The league was originally proposed to be held in India from August 14 to 31, after the Tokyo Olympics, moved to next year because of the pandemic. It was indefinitely postponed before now being shifted to next year.

“We must avoid any risk to the health and safety of the players and other stakeholders, especially with 2021 being an Olympic year. Furthermore, international travel restrictions are still abound with clarity awaited on the same,” UTT co-promoters Vita Dani and Niraj Bajaj said in a joint statement. “So after evaluating the current situation and after due deliberations with TTFI, we have arrived at a mutual consensus to not conduct UTT in this calendar year,” the statement read.

“We are optimistic that 2021 will be healthier and happier, and in due course of time we hope to announce the dates for UTT to be held next year,” he added. The league, which began in 2017, has been a launchpad for many Indian paddlers while also supporting domestic tournaments and the larger ecosystem of the sport in our nation. “We have been very keen for table tennis to resume, however there are various issues to be considered and addressed,” Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) general secretary MP Singh said.

“And under such circumstances, conducting UTT with the presence of foreign players doesn’t seem feasible. However, we are really looking forward to the fourth season of the League in 2021. “We will identify a window to conduct UTT at the earliest next year, with the situation surrounding the pandemic also hopefully improving,” he added.

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. Though Chinese players have stayed away from taking part in the UTT, the event has attracted top paddlers 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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