Local Table Tennis poised for a competitive restart on December 17
By Akeem Greene
The Guyana Table Tennis Association (GTTA) will host its first tournament since the advent of COVID-19 pandemic, starting December 17 at the Malteenoes Sports Club.
Initially, December 12 was earmarked as the proposed restart date, but GTTA President Godfrey Munroe explained to News Room Sport on Tuesday that some logistical work has forced a reschedule.
The structure of the tournament will be unlike the norm, given the COVID-19 protocols. It could last up to a week based on the spaced scheduling of matches. Usually tournaments wrap-up in two to three days.
“We will have a top 16 and then we will have some individual events: top 12 in the boys and girls to ensure we don’t have too much of persons in the traditional way participating. We will have a draw and they will only turn up for their matches,” the GTTA President explained.
Munroe said they will follow all COVID-19 protocols outlined by the National COVID-19 Task Force and the International Table Tennis Federation.
“Basically we wrote to them [National COVID-19 Task Force], but we have not gotten a response; but I was apprised that it is basically geared based on the Minister’s instructions that we can go ahead once we observe those protocols.”
From November 1, sport activities were allowed to resume, pending the approval of the Minister of Health.
Some of the protocols for this tournament will include: social distancing, use of Personal Protective Equipment, wiping of balls, before every session and match, sanitising of the area, temperature checks, and asking players not to use public transportation.
“Most of the players are working on training and they are eager to get back into action because just continued training and not getting to compete could be disheartening.”
With table tennis being considered non-contact, players were allowed to resume training in small groups since August.
Munroe said a restart is critical now since there are important tournaments scheduled for next year, albeit tentative, due to the varying nature of the pandemic.
Among the list of tournaments are the Senior Caribbean Championships in Cuba in April, the World Table Tennis Championship in Huston, the World Team Champions in South Korea for which the women have qualified, and there is also the Olympic Qualifiers in April-May in Argentina.
The Junior events are also scheduled for their usual period next year.
“We are basically planning and gearing with those schedules in mind; ultimately it is to start having these activities so that players can start to train.”
“Table Tennis is a repetitive sport so we require the athletes to continue training so now is a key period to ensure they continue to train and work because they need the training hours.”
Due to the pandemic, the GTTA head said the cost of attending international tournaments is bigger with players having to quarantine.