Participating countries feel Commonwealth TT ill-timed

New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) Participating countries at the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships, being held here May 5-10, feel the event needs to be scheduled better to make it attractive for players.

Two-time champion Gao Ning of Singapore is among several players who have given the tournament a miss, which is scheduled right ahead of the World Championships in Paris beginning May 13.

The timing of the event forced key English players, Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford, also to miss the competition as the club season in Europe is underway. They will get free just in time for the worlds.

“The timing of the tournament is bad. A lot of players are unavailable as they are busy with club commitments and then there is the World Championships right after this finishes. Playing in two big events back-to-back is too much to ask from the players,” England head coach Nick Jarvis told IANS Sunday.

AustraliaÂ’s German coach Jens Lang has a different take on the issue.

“I feel people get confused between Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Championships. This is a good tournament but it needs to be promoted better. Especially, it needs to be marketed better in Asia where the game is hugely popular. The timing too should be changed to the second half of the year when there aren’t many club competitions,” Lang told IANS.

The Commonwealth Championships loses its sheen on the popularity front in comparison to the Commonwealth Games. Thirty three countries took part in the table tennis event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games while a mere 14 nations have come this time around.

Another reason why Commonwealth Championships is not sought after is because it requires the national federations to bear the travel cost, which is borne by their respective governments for the Commonwealth Games.

“Some countries can’t afford to go to two international events scheduled in the same month. As far as the timing goes, our suggestion to the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) will be to host Commonwealth Championships in the same year when individual World Championships are organised. This will take load off the players as they won’t have to play in the team championship,” Dhanraj Choudhary, secretary general at Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), told IANS.

The TTFI is hosting the biennial event which did not find any takers in 2011. The last edition was held in 2009 at Glasgow.

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