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Forget the past, remember the lesson

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AS we say goodbye to 2020, it was the year to remember in more ways than one. COVID-19 brought life to a standstill, taking a heavy toll and causing an economic meltdown. The world had to pay a heavy price.

 

But we must also consider what we learned or missed during the year. COVID-19 taught us a few lessons, including hygiene—regular hand-washing, social distancing, and wearing masks. They became the norm.

 

In a calamitous situation like the one we faced for most of 2020, every aspect of life got affected. Sports were no exception. The Tokyo Olympics, a quadrennial showpiece event, had to be postponed. Several others did not take place at all. Sportspersons and organizers spent a lazy year! Table tennis, too, suffered. After failing to qualify for the team events in January 2020, the Indians hoped to pass the muster in individual qualification tournaments. But then the lockdown happened. Today, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) is still undecided and juggling with the dates. No clear picture has emerged so far. We, like everybody else, are keeping our fingers crossed.TTFI received another jolt as well. We lost our vice-president S.M. Sultan and three other members of his family to COVID in October. In May, former India player Manmeet Singh Walia passed away in Montreal (Canada). He died of a rare disease called ALS. Both these incidents left us with permanent scars.

 

 

But a few nice turns of events also took place in Indian table tennis. During the year, Manika Batra deservingly got the highest sports award—the Khel Ratna. The lass had put India on a high pedestal with an exhilarating performance in 2018 CWG.

 

But we cannot deny that COVID-19 also prepared us for the future. Virtual meetings became the norm. The Sports Authority of India and TTFI used the opportunities to organize a few educational programmes to benefit the players and coaches. ITTF, too, held an online IU exam, in which 54 Indian umpires qualified. TTFI had a referees’ clinic—about 60 participated—to prepare future referees with a strong base. Several of our state units conducted their AGMs virtually. One of our colleagues, Mr. Kuber Bhandari, was elected as President of the Sikkim Olympic Association.

 

The virtual meetings enabled TTFI to stay in touch with the state affiliates. First-hand information from them became very useful. Quite a few of them managed to conduct the state championships. All of this has encouraged the federation to organize the National Championships before March-end. TTFI tried its best to help with financial aid to some of those whose income had practically dried with job loss during the pandemic. The Government of India’s latest SOPs, allowing 50 percent crowd participation, is heartening. But everything is subject to permission from the local authorities.

 

Unfortunately, the year 2020 had a mix of both good and bad memories. It’s time to brush aside the bad and remember the good. The best in 2021 is the availability of vaccines—a real shot in the arm—to keep the Sars-CoV-2 away.

 

On this positive note, let’s begin the New Year with hope, happiness, and peace.

 

Secretary General

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