Mangesh Mopkar will officiate the table tennis matches at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The experienced umpire will be the only Indian to perform duty as a technical official at the postponed Summer Games.
The table tennis events at the Tokyo Olympics will be closely followed by Indians. As many as four Indian paddlers have qualified for the quadrennial games for the first time. Sharath Kamal, Sathiyan Ganasekaran, Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee will represent the country at the Tokyo Games.
The Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021. Table tennis events are scheduled to begin on July 25. Blue badge umpire Mangesh Mopkar will leave for Japan on July 20. Mopkar has been appointed as a technical official and will be able to umpire for the matches.
International umpire Mangesh Mopkar was selected on the basis of his excellent past record in officiating in major table tennis events. Mangesh Mopkar has covered nearly 30 international tournaments in the last decade, ten of which were overseas.
Nagpur-based Mangesh Mopkar was India’s first choice for the job. The 59-year-old explained the selection procedure while talking exclusively to Sportskeeda. He said:
“The Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee asked the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) to send two names, one male and one female, with their track record of the last five years. The data includes performance and evaluations at international events during that period. On the basis of my good record, TTFI nominated me. No female official made the cut.”
Mopkar started officiating TT international tournaments in 2011
Mopkar started officiating international TT events in 2011. He has been able to maintain his blue badge status due to his knowledge of the rules and regulations of the game. A technical official can qualify only once for the Olympics due to the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) policy.
“The ITTF has made it a policy of not sending any official twice for a big event like the Olympics. As the event happens every four years and if one person goes multiple times then others will not get an opportunity. Like athletes, the Olympics is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all the officials,” said Mangesh Mopkar, who took VRS from Bank of India in October 2019.
Amid the pandemic, the organizing of the Tokyo Olympics is a challenging task for everybody. All the players and officials, who are traveling to Japan, are needed to follow the strict guidelines set by the organizing committee.
“There are a lot of restrictions on all those who will be participating. It all started with getting the vaccination done. I have taken both of my vaccine doses. The Tokyo Organizing Committee has sent a long list of do’s and don’ts and has urged us to follow those. They have advised me not to connect with people for the last fourteen days before leaving India. They will require RT PCR reports of 72 and 96 hours before departure,” said Mopkar.
After the Olympics, former national-level paddler Mopkar will officiate at the Asian TT Championship slated to be held at Doha, Qatar from September 1 to 8.
“Immediately after the Olympics, I will have to report to Doha on August 25. They want all the officials at least one week in advance at the venue because of the pandemic protocols. I will perform the duty as deputy referee at the prestigious tournament,” said Mopkar.
Maharashtra Table Tennis Association vice-president Deepak Dhote and executive member Ashutosh Potnis termed the appointment of Mopkar a “proud moment” for the entire state TT fraternity.
“It is a matter of pride for the entire Maharashtra as Mangesh Mopkar is the only one from India who will be officiating in the Olympics. It does not get better and bigger than this for any sports person or official. He has a deep knowledge of the game and vast experience of handling the situation on the court. I am confident that he will do a brilliant job,” said Potnis.
He added that Mopkar was instrumental in developing several young TT umpires from the region.
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