The world table tennis ruling body, International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has hailed the Lagos State Government for keeping faith with the annual Nigerian Open which has remained one of the most followed tournaments in Africa.
According to the President of ITTF, Thomas Weikert, the organisation of the tournament has made it to become one of the cherished competitions across the globe as well as the highest prize money in the ITTF Challenge series.
In the last three editions, the ITTF Nigerian Open has become the star tournament of the Lagos International Classics with players across the globe gracing the tournament while it has also attracted more players to Lagos since its inception in 2013.
An impressed ITTF chief believes Lagos State has created a conducive environment to put Africa on the world table tennis map while two of the continent’s best players – Aruna Quadri of Nigeria and Omar Assar of Egypt are regulars of the championship.
“I have heard a lot of good things about the Nigerian Open and I think this should be attributed to the good organization of the competition. I must commend those in charge of the championship and we hope we can use it to bring it more ITTF World Tour to Africa.
“All those involved in the competition and those who made it possible must take credit for the efforts they have made to make the tournaments continue to be staged annually. I hope we can get more of that into Africa,” he said.
Also, an Executive Member of ITTF, Khaled El-Salhy, believes the tournament has become a brand for Africa.
“It is great news that the Nigerian Open has gotten a title sponsor and this is a proof of the professional organization of the tournament in the last three editions. We are excited that it has attracted sponsors. I must also say that this is the first times that such competition will be getting a title sponsor in Africa. I hope more tournament like this will be attracted to the sponsors,” El-Salhy said.
The African Table tennis Federation (ATTF) President, who has been part of the Nigerian Open in the last three editions described the support been given to the championship by the Lagos State Government as awesome, he described the atmosphere at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun has motivating for players.
“The fans, spectators inside the venue plus TV coverage from day one in all previous events in Lagos were of real indication to all sponsors about importance of the event and I feel the sponsorship will be a turning point for table tennis in Nigeria and Africa. More players are now willing to take part in Nigerian Open and I hope this year will be an improvement to previous editions.”