An American Jewish table tennis player is about to miss a spot at Tokyo 2020 as the Olympic trials are scheduled to take place on Shabbat. Estee Ackerman, a gold medalist at the United States Table Tennis Championships, is an Orthodox Jew and her religion prohibits participation in organized sport during the Saturday Sabbath.
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According to the New York Post, the 18-year-old father requested a schedule change so that Ackerman can play its games Thursday, Friday before sunset and Sunday. The New York Post reported that the national governing body rejected the request, questioning the young American’s chances of playing for a spot at the 2020 Olympics.
USA Table Tennis has been criticized by the Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish Non-Governmental Organization based in America, which called for the national governing to “to accommodate the Jewish religious observance of an Orthodox teenager”.
The tournament is scheduled to take place in Santa Monica, California from February 27 to March 1. She could be bounced from her shot at the Olympics. An Orthodox Jewish teenager from Long Island made the way to the Olympic ping pong trials and now she probably can’t participate as she falls on the Saturday Sabbath, she said, along with her family. Estee Ackerman, 18, nationally ranked, heartbroken that table tennis fans in the United States will not allow him to host tournament matches later this month during times of religious celebration, she told the Post.
“I’m really disappointed. I wish they would give me the opportunity to make my dream come true,” Ackerman, a West Hempstead native, told The Post. “I train day and night.”
In January, Ackerman’s father Glenn contacted the table tennis organization about the four-day tournament in Santa Monica, California, later this month, asking them to schedule games for Thursday, Friday before sunset and Sunday. But a tournament director rejected him, saying it was too difficult to coordinate the game with other players in his category, according to emails obtained by The Post.
“When I asked the tournament referee, they thought it would not be possible to reschedule all the games because we will be using a round-robin with crossovers,” replied the director of high-performance tennis. Sean O’Neill table lamp in an email.
USA Table Tennis has until Friday to reverse the decision before the Saturday registration deadline. Ackerman who has won multiple gold medals at the U.S. Table Tennis championships, and is ranked 33 in the country is crushed that she can’t go, she said.
“I’m confused why they won’t work with me, she said. I’m serious and dedicated. I enjoy the toughest of the toughest competition. She added I would love to go to Tokyo for the Olympic 2020 this summer. I think I should get the opportunity to try out.”
“We want her to be part of the Olympic team and win a medal for the United States, which has never won a table tennis medal,” said Glenn Ackerman. “She’s playing hard and we think she deserves a chance.”
In December 2018, the ping-pong teenager beat double Olympian Lily Yip to win first place in the women’s division at the US Open in December 2018. She has been playing since the age of 8 and is currently training four times a week in Israel, where she studies abroad. O’Neill did not return a request for comment on Thursday.