T/TENNIS: NIGERIA BATTLES OTHERS FOR TOKYO SLOTS IN PORTUGAL
BY ADEYEMI ROBINSON-ADEFIOYE LAGOS
Nigeria as the only African country will be making another attempt at qualifying for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as the West African nation battles 33 others in the men and 29 teams in the women at the 2020 ITTF WORLD TEAM OLYMPIC QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT holding in Gondomar, Portugal on January 22 to 26.
From the men and women events, 18 teams made up of nine men and nine women are expected to pick their slots to Tokyo 2020 from the Portugal showdown.
According to the playing format, the matches will be in knockouts stages with the first stage made up of a knockout of 64. The eight teams, which make it to the quarterfinals will qualify to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games while the quarterfinals, semifinals and final matches will not be played.
The 9th and final qualification place for both Men’s & Women’s Teams will be determined via a 2nd knockout stage between teams losing in the round of 16 of the first stage. The matches are best of five individual matches consisting of a doubles and four singles.
The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has also confirmed the five-man contingent of Nigeria’s men team made up of ARUNA QUADRI, OLAJIDE OMOTAYO, SEGUN TORIOLA, BODE ABIODUN and junior sensation, TAIWO MATI.
The women will be represented by EDEM OFFIONG, OLUFUNKE OSHONAIKE, FATIMO BELLO, AJOKE OJOMU and CECILIA AKPAN.
The tournament would give Nigeria another avenue to qualify for Tokyo 2020 after missing the continental sole slot to EGYPT at the 2019 African Games in MOROCCO.
The Multiusos de Gondomar, in PORTUGAL will host the tournament with 9 teams (men and women) qualifying to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and subsequently be entitled to confirm two athletes to take part in the singles events.