Coronavirus: Sharath hopeful of bagging Oman Open rankings points

Sharath Kamal, who won the 2020 Oman Open ITTF Challenge Plus in March, is hopeful that his 1100  points will be added when the rankings list is released.

The International Table Tennis Federation’s (ITTF) decision on Sunday to freeze the rankings as of March 2020 (points that are awarded for events that happened in February will only be taken into consideration) due to Covid-19 has put a question mark on the fate of tournaments that took place in March.

Some of the key decisions taken by ITTF were “suspension of all currently planned events and activities that involve international travel until June 30 and freezing of ITTF rankings lists as of March 2020 and further evaluations of all implications related to the postponement of events, travel restrictions and other complications with scope for further decisions on potentially necessary adjustments. Adjustments to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic (and Paralympic) Games qualification pathways will be worked on after the dates of the Games have been decided.”

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In fact, Sharath Kamal, who won the Oman Open ITTF Challenge Plus (from March 11 to 15), his first after a decade, is keeping his fingers crossed.  The 37-year-old Indian is hopeful that his 1100  points will be added when the rankings list is released, he said, probably by August-September. 

Speaking to Sportstar on Monday, the 37-year-old said: “Will ITTF add my Oman Open ranking points? [Indian padddler] G. Sathiyan said ‘they [ITTF] will do it.' If ITTF had taken my Oman victory in the next month’s (April) rankings, I would be in the top 30. I think it will take time, maybe by August-September. [But] everything is in the dark now. “During the Oman Open and Qatar Open there were travel restrictions where countries such as Italy and others didn’t play [due to Covid-19]. 

As of February 2020, Sharath is ranked 38th in the world.

Sharath said with the Hong Kong Open and China Open scheduled in May being cancelled/postponed and the Korea Open and Australia Open not happening in June, there is no clarity on when rankings will be released. "And I fervently hope that I don’t lose my ranking points I got by winning the Oman Open,” said the former Commonwealth Games champion. 

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Harmeet Desai, the reigning Commonwealth champion, who reached the semifinals of the Oman Open Challenge Plus, is hoping against hope that he will get his 715 ranking points. “We hope we don’t lose our points,” he said.  However, when Harmeet asked Javier Angulo Luceron, ITTF World ranking manager, about the Oman Open points, Javier said a decision will be taken about the “problematic events”, but assured that points would be added. 

In a message to Harmeet, Javier said: "the executive committee decision was to freeze the ranking as it is due to complications [due to Covid-19] we had in March events with some nations that couldn’t attend and Polish suspension (the Polish Open Challenge Plus (from Mar. 11 to 15) was suspended midway on Mar. 13). Nonetheless the points achieved will be added and count[ed] once a decision is made about what to do with the problematic events,” he said. This will certainly be a great piece of news for Sharath and Harmeet. Till then we will have to wait for ITTF to announce it officially.