Today: Last Update:

  • Table Tennis President Aims for Re-election -- ATRadio


    (ATR) With a week to go before the vote, International Table Tennis Federation president Thomas Weikert is predicting a victory when delegates vote in Düsseldorf on May 31.

    ITTF president Thomas Weikert (Getty Images)
    The election takes place at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships.

    Weikert is seeking a second term but also says it will be his last. Weikert has been active in table tennis administration for 25 years in Germany, where he is a lawyer specializing in family law.

    "I’m now 55 and I think I have the power to go for one more term, that means four years," Weikert tells Around the Rings Editor Ed Hula on the latest edition of ATRadio.

    "There are not term limits but from a personal point of view, if you serve two terms, that means eight years," Weikert says. "And it’s a good thing in terms of good governance to change something. If I’m elected I guess I will not stay longer than 2021."

    His opponent for the presidency is Jean-Michel Saive, a top player from Belgium who began his career with a European cadet championship in 1984 and went on to compete at seven Olympics. Saive is chairman of the European Olympic Committees Athletes Commission.

    Both candidates have issued multi-point manifestos that call for development of the sport at the grassroots level. On the other hand, both want to forge stronger ties to the IOC and seek more medal events in the Olympics.

    Adham Sharara, past president and now the chairman of the ITTF, is encountering some criticism from Weikert for backing Saive for the presidency. Weikert believes his predecessor should stay neutral, since Sharara has the job of conducting the ITTF general assembly where the vote will take place.

    Sharar tells ATR that he is following the rules and is only exercising his private opinion.

    “I am very sensitive to perceived bias or conflict of interest, or unfair behavior that could affect the outcome of an election,” he says, noting that he has already recused himself from chairing the ITTF elections because one of the candidates for vice president is a fellow Canadian.

    “As an individual who served the ITTF as an elected volunteer over 27 years in many positions including 15 years as president, of course I have an opinion and of course I have a view on what I consider best for the ITTF. It is only natural that many ask for my personal opinion,” he says.

    “I believe in freedom of speech. I believe in expressing my opinion when asked. I don’t believe in being muzzled because I do not support a particular candidate. The fact is that this election is not about me, and should never be about me. We have two candidates and everyone is free to support whomever candidate they want,” says Sharara.

    Weikert says he does not want to make a big deal over his dispute with Sharara and says he believes the voting will be problem free. Weikert says he is confident that he will secure the 100+ votes that will be needed to win.

    Listen to the full interview with Weikert and Hula below:

    Written by Ed Hula.

    For general comments or questions, click here.

    25 Years at #1: Your best source of news about the Olympics is, for subscribers only.