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February 14, 2020 1:52 pm

Pressure Mounts on USA Table Tennis to Accommodate Shabbat-Observant Player at Upcoming Olympic Trials

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

A table tennis match (illustrative). Photo: Pierre-Yves Beaudouin via Wikimedia Commons.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) urged USA Table Tennis (USATT) on Friday to accommodate the Shabbat-observance needs of an Orthodox Jewish player at the US Olympic Table Tennis Team trials set to be held in California later this month.

A New York Post report said that 18-year-old Estee Ackerman would likely not be able to participate in the tournament, as one day of the four-day competition falls on Saturday.

In January, a request by Ackerman’s father to tailor his daughter’s match schedule to avoid conflicting with Shabbat was said to have been rejected by USATT.

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote in a letter on Friday to USATT CEO Virginia Sung, “The Olympics are about embracing diversity in competition. Forcing Estee to choose between her faith and her lifelong dream is completely antithetical to that mission.”

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“The rejection of Estee’s accommodation request is disrespectful of her faith and undermines the Olympic Trials being viewed as fair,” he added.

“Securing a spot for the Olympics should be passed purely on skill and merit,” Greenblatt noted. “We therefore urge your organization to reconsider its determination and make concerted efforts to allow Estee to compete.”

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