(by Steve Hopkins)
On Wednesday, USA Table Tennis announced that it would postpone the 2020 US Youth National Ranking Tournament which was to be held next month in California. The reason for the postponement was to limit potential exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19). This announcement joins a series of others that have included a suspension to the NBA season, a cancellation of NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament, suspension of the NHL season, suspension of the XFL season, and many other cancellations and modifications played out in different forms in the sports world in the US and abroad.
The Chinese National Team spent February abroad (in Qatar) to avoid exposure at home. The World Tour has postponed four events so far, the Japan Open, the Australian Open, the Italian Open, and the Korea Open. Larger events in the US have faced issues as well: the St. Joe Valley Open in South Bend has been cancelled, and the Arnold Sports Festival earlier this month cancelled some events and held others without spectators.
As different areas deal with outbreaks of COVID-19, we can expect that there will continue be disruptions of events, tournaments, leagues, and club operation. Check with your local club to confirm schedules and remain flexible as those running these events try to add health and safety issues to all of the other responsibilities associated with running a table tennis club or event.
Basic preventative measures are important in our sport, just as they are important in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in any public area. Do not participate in this sport if you are sick – stay at home. Cover any cough or sneeze. Our sport includes many nationalities, so take a few extra days if you have recently traveled abroad or if you have come in contact with others who have recently traveled abroad. Avoid touching your hands to your face (eyes, nose, mouth). Wash your hands often. Clean the tables and the balls and other frequently touched surfaces. If you are someone with respiratory issues or otherwise may be high risk, consider limiting your time at the tables and/or taking extra precautions. Pay attention to local announcements – as areas with high frequency of COVID-19 may restrict gatherings.
Stay safe and healthy.