(by Steve Hopkins)
This week, the International Olympic Committee issued a statement condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The IOC called upon international federations to cancel events planned in Russian and Belarus, and to cease use of those country flags.
The ITTF also issued a statement of concern about the conflict in Ukraine. The ITTF announcement, which did not mention Russia by name, noted their ongoing efforts to support the Ukraine Table Tennis Federation, and noted that they would follow the recommendations of the IOC and ask their Continental Federations to act accordingly. Presumably, this means no ITTF events in Russia in the short term, and that use of Russian and Belarusian flags and anthems should not be used in events or award ceremonies.
The armed conflict in Ukraine did not affect this weekend’s Europe Top 16 event. There were no Ukrainian players who qualified and the Russian participants arrived and competed as planned. In the Women’s Singles Event, Mikhailova, the top Russian, actually pulled off three upsets on her way to a Finals appearance. Gazprom, a prominent Russian energy company (and also the sponsor of Dimitrij Ovtcharov’s Fakel Gazprom team) was the largest sponsor of the Europe Top 16 event.
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