Fascinated by the world-class organisation of the event coupled with the huge followership the annual ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open commands globally, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has described the tournament as a model for others.
Speaking at the press briefing to herald the tournament on Tuesday in Lagos, Executive Vice President, ITTF, Dr Alaa Meshref, said upgrading the tournament to Challenge Plus was done as a result of its global acceptance by players.
“We are happy to have a tournament with the fans coming to watch and this has improved with more players eager to come to Nigeria,” the ITTF chief said
He commended the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) and the Lagos State Government for their commitment to table tennis, while hoping that the tournament would continue to set example for others.
Meshref said: “We are excited with what is happening in Nigeria when it comes to table tennis and we are thrilled by the commitment of those involved in the organisation of this championship. We believe that in no distant time, the tournament will rival others in Europe and Asia in terms of prize money. We must commend the NTTF and Lagos State Government for what they are doing to the sport. ITTF will continue to support this tournament. It is a model for others in the world.”
For President, NTTF, Ishaku Tikon, the tournament has continued to set new records with over 32 nations competing this year.
“We are grateful to our sponsors and we want to thank the sports-loving governor of Lagos State for his commitment to the tournament. I welcome every player to Nigeria this year,” the NTTF chief said.
Meanwhile, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has disclosed that sport is a key to youth development while also reaffirming the state’s commitment to the annual ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open.
Speaking while receiving Meshref on Tuesday, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the hosting of the tournaments has put Lagos on the world map with players across the world eager to be part of the competition.
Nigeria Open is the third tournament in the last one week to be staged in Lagos and the Governor however, reaffirmed support to the championship.
Sanwo-Olu said table tennis has been developing since the start of the Nigeria Open few years ago.
Specifically, he singled out the Chairman of the Local Organsing Committee (LOC), Wahid Oshodi as a pride to the state whose commitment and resourcefulness has continued to raise the profile of the sport in Africa.
“We want to continue to raise the bar so that other countries can continue to come to Lagos to compete. We will not relent in our efforts to empower our youths which has been part of our campaign promises that we will support our youth to actualise their dream through sports. Wahid Oshodi has made Lagos State proud and taken table tennis to great height in Nigeria and Africa at large,” stressed the governor.