Sharara to step down as ITTF President to deal with China crisis

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April 27, 2014 (ISN) – International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) President Adham Sharara has revealed to insidethegames he is to step down from his position in September to seek election to the newly created role of chairman in order, among other goals, to help generate increased competition to Chinese dominance in the sport. 

Sharara, a 61-year-old Canadian born in Cairo who took up his current position within the ITTF in 1999, will be replaced by Thomas Weikert, head of the German Table Tennis Association who is currently Deputy President of the ITTF. 

Sharara plans to remain involved by standing for the new position of ITTF chairman, which will have lesser responsibilities.

“At this stage in my life, and after 15 years of being President of the ITTF, preceded by four years as Deputy President, this new position would suit me perfectly,” he told insidethegameson the eve of the ZEN-NOH 2014 World Team Table Tennis Championships, which is due to open in Tokyo tomorrow. 

“This would keep me involved in the ITTF but without the day-to-day operational responsibilities that I have now.

“This will also give me more time to run for positions in international sports bodies, which I have not done so far in order to focus on ITTF business.”

Sharara believes the future health of his sport depends upon a greater balance of competitiveness between European nations and those in Asia, most notably the country which has dominated the medals tables for the last 20 years – China.

Chinese players, like women's world champion Li Xiaoxia, have dominated the sport in recent years ©Getty Images
Chinese players, like women’s world champion Li Xiaoxia, have dominated the sport in recent years, some claim to an unhealthy extent ©Getty Images

Sharara claimed the current dominance of China – which has won the last five men’s individual world titles, the last 10 women’s world titles and the last six world team titles – as “a real problem”.

In 2001, just two years after taking over as ITTF President, he warned the sport would become “boring” if China continued to dominate, as they had at that year’s World Championships in Osaka and at the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Sharana claimed there that there is no imminent change in China’s domination of the sport at world.

“This is a real problem,” he told insidethegames.

“I intend to take time out from the ITTF Presidency by retiring this September and spending more time independently to help Europe and other parts of the world to rise and challenge the Chinese dominance.

“I believe that this will generate a lot of interest in our sport and will make for a healthier balance. 

“Of course the Chinese deserve the results they are getting because of their very hard work and dedication to excellence. 

“But at the same time to make any sport interesting we need a rivalry and unpredictable results. 

“It will take time, but eventually it will happen.”

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