by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
A living legend in his own country, at a Press Conference staged in his native Belgium on the morning of Thursday 19th January Jean-Michel Saive announced that in the forthcoming elections, he will stand for President of the International Table Tennis Federation.
The election will be held at the Annual General Meeting staged in the German city of Düsseldorf on Wednesday 31st May on the occasion of the Liebherr 2017 World Championships. Jean-Michel Saive lines up alongside Germany’s Thomas Weikert and Qatar’s Khalil Al-Mohannadi, the current respective holders of the offices of President and Deputy President.
Winner of the Cadet Boys’ Singles title at the 1984 European Youth Championships, sparked an international career which saw Jean-Michel Saive reach the final of the World Championships in 1993 and the following year be anointed European champion.
In addition, among many other accolades as a player, he gained the top spot on the World rankings and competed in seven consecutive Olympic Games.
Currently he Chair of the Athletes Commission of European Olympic Committees.
He is issued an 11 Point Programme
1-0 TABLE TENNIS FIRST, ITTF FIRST
My motto is Table Tennis First, ITTF First. The ITTF is very ambitious in trying to make table tennis one of the top sports in the World and the ITTF one of the top federations in the World. We must create an atmosphere of “Excellence” in all ITTF activities.
2-0 CONSULTATION AND COMMUNICATION
All major decisions will be made only after extensive consultation with the member national associations and all stakeholders, this includes any major decisions affecting the World Table Tennis Championships. In particular, we will increase “two-way” communications with our Continental Federations, National Associations, the Board of Directors, and all groups that work on the development of our sport.
3-0 SPORT FOR ALL
At the heart of my candidacy, there is a desire that is fundamental to me: I want to pay more attention to the base of our sport, the hundreds of millions of players who are in love with table tennis! The ITTF must be a federation for all and not just for the elite. I would also like to integrate the World Veteran Championships and the Veteran Circuit into the ITTF’s competition programme.
4-0 ITTF ROLE MODELS
In consultation with the Continental Federations, we will appoint Athlete Role Models, one male and female from each Continent, to promote our sport.
5-0 CLOSER RELATIONS WITH THE IOC AND THE OLYMPIC MOVEMENT
The ITTF could and should be much closer to the IOC. One of my major aims is to increase the number of events and medals at the Olympic Games.
6-0 DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION
The ITTF has one of the best development programmes in the world of sport. The ITTF staff and volunteers work extremely hard on a daily basis, with limited funds and resources, to develop our sport worldwide. My intention is to double the development budget and to provide the necessary human resources to spread our sport throughout every part of the world.
7-0 EQUIPMENT AND QUALITY OF TABLE TENNIS BALLS
Players at all levels, especially at lower levels, complain about the poor quality of table tennis balls. I will personally visit our manufacturer partners.
My intention is to convince all levels of decision-makers within the ITTF not to make any more changes to our rules (Laws of Table Tennis) for a set period of time. Instead, out of official competitions, we can welcome experiments and tests to evaluate the impact changes would have. I believe that we need this period of stability..
9-0 MARKETING AND PRESENTATION OF OUR SPORT
The ITTF is revitalizing its marketing strategies. Our goal should be to introduce new sponsors and advertisers from different parts of the world and to provide them with a high return on their investment in terms of the promotion and visibility of their product. We must make table tennis more “fashionable.”
10-0 GOOD GOVERNANCE
Good governance and good management is my number one priority. We will ensure that the ITTF follows all aspects of good management and respects all principles of good governance..
….11 LEADERSHIP AND TEAM CONCEPT
Table tennis has the distinction of being both an individual and a team sport. It was a privilege to have competed not only as an individual, but also as a very passionate team member. I intend to lead the ITTF as a team player.