Thomas Weikert has today (Wednesday) claimed a fresh term as president of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) after seeing off the challenge of the sport’s former world No.1 Jean-Michel Saive.
In what was a protracted election process held on the sidelines of the World Championships in Dusseldorf, Germany, German official Weikert gained 118 votes to Saive’s 90. It was the first election the 55-year-old had won, having led the organisation since September 2014 when he was appointed deputy president following the departure of Adham Sharara, who stepped down after 15 years in the top role.
Today’s election was contested by two men after Qatar’s Khalil Al-Mohannadi this month withdrew his bid to become the new president to throw his support behind Weikert’s campaign. Al-Mohannadi announced in January that he would stand for the presidency of the sport’s world governing body during this year’s elections. He was soon followed by Saive.
The Belgian is the current chair of the Athletes Commission of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) and enjoyed a glittering career in table tennis. This saw him reach the final of the World Championships in 1993, become the 1994 European champion and compete in seven straight Olympic Games. However, Al-Mohannadi questioned his pedigree in sports administration in throwing his support behind Weikert.
Upon announcing his candidature in October, Weikert outlined five central themes that would form the basis of his campaign. Weikert said that he is keen to develop and promote TTX, a new version of table tennis, in an effort to gain new fans and active participants.
Weikert has also stated his desire for the ITTF to make more of an effort in terms of marketing the sport through working with existing partners and finding new ones. The German also said that if elected, he would ensure further implementation and development of existing ITTF development programmes and also committed to using new digital platforms to achieve a stronger connection between fans and the sport.
In addition, Weikert is keen to keep table tennis attractive for players, spectators and the media to further improve its appeal through a number of methods.
Weikert said today: “I would like to thank my team for all the support they have given me since becoming president. Thank you to all the national associations for their confidence in me to continue as president. I promise to keep giving my best to push the sport to new heights and achieve all my goals stated in my manifesto.”