Problems a hurdle to be dealt with: ITTF chief

National paddler Feng Tianwei in action during a match against Holland in the World Team Table Tennis Championships in Malaysia, on March 2, 2016.
National paddler Feng Tianwei in action during a match against Holland in the World Team Table Tennis Championships in Malaysia, on March 2, 2016.PHOTO: ZAOBAO

A technical glitch on Wednesday left several women's teams at the World Team Table Tennis Championships stuck in limbo.

After the draw for the knockout stages concluded around 11.30pm, there was a delay as TV rights holders paired matches with time slots.

The delay was compounded by an error on the ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) website, which published wrong dates and times for some matches.

Frustratingly, teams who had qualified for the quarter-finals, including Singapore, went to sleep not knowing when they would be playing.

Two quarter-finals were scheduled for yesterday and another two for today. Feng Tianwei and her team-mates only learnt about their match details yesterday morning.

The packed schedule meant some teams only found out about their draw close to midnight on Wednesday. The first knockout match started at 10am yesterday.

It is a situation that ITTF president Thomas Weikert regrets.

Yesterday, he told The Straits Times: "It was a data entry error and we are looking into how it happened to prevent it from happening again."

As for TV rights holders delaying the fixture announcement, Weikert said it is a balancing act that the ITTF is learning to juggle.

Emphasising the importance of broadcast revenue, he said: "Only when we have more money can we then develop the sport."

The fixture brouhaha was one of several slip-ups to have plagued the tournament.

Players and coaches have also complained about the irregular shuttle bus timings and the air-conditioning in the Malawati Stadium's main hall, which they said affects the flight of the balls.

Weikert said these problems were partly a result of the decision to switch competition venues six months ago. This, after authorities decided to renovate the original venue - the Putra Stadium - for the SEA Games which Malaysia will host next year.

Adding that he has been meeting the local organising committee, the German said: "This wasn't the original bid. It was going to be quite a different tournament."

Asked if he was disappointed with the organisers, Weikert said: "Let's say disappointed maybe is not the right word, but (the organising) could have been better."

Chua Siang Yee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2016, with the headline 'Problems a hurdle to be dealt with: ITTF chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe