Tokyo Olympics: Foreign coach unlikely for Indian paddlers after postponement

The postponement of the Olympics will give Indian table tennis team more time to prepare but a foreign coach is unlikely to be hired for the squad.

TTFI had tried to rope in Canadian Dejan Papic last year but things did not work out as the latter decided to undergo a knee surgery when he was expected to join the squad.

TTFI had tried to rope in Canadian Dejan Papic last year but things did not work out as the latter decided to undergo a knee surgery when he was expected to join the squad.

The postponement of Tokyo Olympics to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic has given India’s table tennis squad more time to prepare and given the current scenario, the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) is looking to fill the head coach’s position locally rather than hiring a foreign coach.

The head coach position has been lying vacant since the 2018 Asian Games due to multiple factors.

TTFI had tried to rope in Canadian Dejan Papic last year but things did not work out as he decided to undergo a knee surgery when he was expected to join the squad.

READ | Tokyo Olympics postponed: Indian table tennis team lauds decision

“We can only look at an Indian coach now. There is no activity happening at the moment but when things get better, I doubt a foreign coach would like to come here considering the global situation (due to coronavirus),” TTFI secretary general M P Singh told PTI.

“Indian coaches anyway have been working with the men and women team over the past one year. Most likely, we would stick with them.”

Former national champions Soumyadeep Roy and Arup Basak have been working with men and women respectively for more than a year.

With the entire world sporting scene coming to a standstill due to the pandemic, there is lack of clarity over the Olympic qualification events.

The Asian qualifier was supposed to take place next month but world body ITTF has suspended all activity until the end of April.

ALSO READ | Tokyo 2020: Olympics delay puts Japan in a spin

“We are waiting for the ITTF for more details on the future. The Olympic qualifying events need to be rescheduled and may be fresh rankings will have to be considered for qualification,” Singh added.

India’s highest-ranked player G Sathiyan, who is in line to qualify alongside veteran Sharath Kamal, said it is still too early to talk about the game.

“Decision could only be made after the world is able to contain the virus. Indian coach is an option but will have to discuss with TTFI and SAI when the time comes and take a call,” said Sathiyan.

Among the women, Manika Batra has the best chance of making the Olympics cut.

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.