Following the cancellation of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Challenge Plus Nigeria Open, earlier planned for August 18 to 22 this year due to COVID-19 pandemic, the former National Table Tennis Coach, Babatunde Obisanya, has said that the safety of the athletes and fans outweighs the global event.

The competition was scheduled to hold at the Molade Okoya Thomas Indoor Sports Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos State, before its cancellation on May 17 by the Local Organising Committee (LOC).

Speaking to The Guardian last week, Obisanya stated that the reason why the competition was stopped was something being experienced in every part of the world, adding that it was a welcome development for the good of all the participants.

“I think the cancellation is a good decision taken at a good time by the ITTF. This is in the sense that there are evidences surrounding us that show that nothing major can hold again Internationally this year. We can see that every sphere of the economies around the world has been affected. And this is a global competition that will involve athletes travelling from other parts of the world to take part in the event.

“And since flights are also affected under the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it means that nothing meaningful can be achieved under the earlier scheduled date,” he said, adding that the next three to four months will define if any major sporting activity will hold this year if the COVID-19 pandemic was well managed.

“I doubt if any meaningful international event can still hold this year. But we pray that in the next three to four months that the COVID-19 pandemic will be effectively managed.

“If the TOKYO 2020 Olympics can be moved with all the preparations put in place for four years due to the crisis, then one should not be surprised that the Nigeria Open event had to be put on hold. If football leagues played weekly across the world can be suspended due to the COVID-19, then cancelling the table tennis championship should also be welcome.

“I think we all need to be patient until everything returns to normal, not only in Nigeria but to the rest world. I am not happy that the Nigeria Open was stopped, but we have to consider the overall good of everyone because this is about a health issue,” he stated.

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