The World Table Tennis Day takes place at Al Wasl Club in Dubai a few years back. Picture for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Courtesy: Organiser

Dubai: Thomas Weikert, president of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), has hit back strongly at the “discrediting” allegations made against him by two of the most senior officials of the world governing body.

Weikert was the subject of a critical letter jointly written by ITTF Deputy President Khalil Al Mohannadi and executive vice-president for finance, Petra Sörling. Both senior ITTF officials questioned Weikert’s ability to lead the worldwide body and expressed a hope that he is not re-elected in next year’s polls.

In the letter, sent to members of the ITTF by the Swedish Table Tennis Association, the two high-ranking officials claimed to offer “a new direction for the ITTF membership under the leadership of a new President”.

In their joint letter, Al Mohannadi and Sörling had raised several concerns over Weikert’s management of the ITTF, ranging from his handling of the coronavirus crisis to allegations that the president has been placing his own interests above those of the federation.

“Both officials have made discrediting allegations without ever having made any relevant complaints in the six meetings and video conferences that have taken place during the past six months. The respective minutes are all approved,” Weikert was quoted in a news item appearing on web portal insidethegames.biz.

“As far as I know, they have made their letter public without informing the other Board members. They did not give me the opportunity to comment on it before. And neither of them had ever contacted me before to discuss possible problems they may have with me or my management style,” the German official insisted.

From another perspective, it looks like Al Mohannadi and Sörling are critical on Weikert for the ITTF president appearing to renege on his claim that he would only serve a single four-year term after being elected in 2017. But, Weikert - who has served in the role after replacing Adham Sharara of Canada mid-term in 2014 - declared his intention to stand for re-election in February.

Weikert insisted that he had been encouraged to run for a second term by some of the ITTF’s member associations and said he wanted to build on the work done during his first four years in charge.

At this point, it is unclear if the letter of dissent represents the first moves towards a candidacy either from Qatar’s Al Mohannadi - who began a campaign for the presidency in 2017 before withdrawing to support the German - or from Sörling of Sweden.

“It is also common and legitimate in a democratic system that other candidates also want to lead the ITTF and run for office,” Weikert acknowledged.

“The complainants themselves have never criticised my decision, although I have told them already in October 2019 during an ITTF Executive Committee meeting, to run for office again,” he added.