Behind the Curtain: Life in the ITTF Bubble with Joerg and Kanak
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Joerg Bitzigeio and Kanak Jha: 2020 Men's World Cup

Behind the Curtain: Life in the ITTF Bubble with Joerg and Kanak

(by Steve Hopkins)

The World Cup ended on Sunday (click here for the Butterfly article about the Semifinals and Finals) with Fan Zhendong securing the title in an All-Chinese Final. Some of the matches were amazing – a side effect of having a tournament filled with the best players in the world – but there was more to this tournament than the perfect playing conditions featured in the streaming itTV coverage.
These ITTF RESTART events are the culmination of planning and cooperation not just with the event organizers and the ITTF but also between continental groups, country contingents, and the players and their support staff.  For the Men’s World Cup, Kanak Jha made the trip as a player and Jörg Bitzigeio traveled as his personal coach.  We had the opportunity to touch base with both on the day before they traveled from Germany to China – those interviews can be found here:  PongNow with Joerg Bitziegeio, PongNow with Kanak Jha.
Kanak and Joerg arrived in China on October 26th.  They faced a strict quarantine for eight days where they were basically limited to their own hotel rooms.  They they had another week where they had small training groups and very limited personal contacts.  The total of these two quarantine periods was 14 days – after which they were officially in the bubble and allowed to interact with others who had been through the
same protocols.
As Joerg said on October 12th, “It’s well organized and since we have been able to leave quarantine yesterday, it’s much better. For the first week we had to stay in the rooms completely and for the second week we have been allowed to leave the rooms only twice a day for training sessions.”
Now that the event is over, Kanak and Joerg will be heading back to Germany.  Interestingly, two of Kanak’s Ochsenhausen teammates traveled to China with him.  One of those players, Hugo Calderano was scheduled to play both in the World Cup and in the Tour Grand Finals – so his time in the bubble is continuing.  The other teammate is Simon Gauzy, who did not qualify to play in the World Cup but who remains in the bubble because he did qualify for the ITTF Finals (the third RESTART event which will be held next weekend).  Gauzy is one of three players – along with Xu Xin and Lin Gaoyuan – who qualified for the Finals but not for the World Cup.
Below is the segment of the Joerg Bitzigeio interview providing his insights into the bubble and their upcoming travel to China.


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