US table tennis star Estee Ackerman to miss Olympics in Tokyo because her trials take place on Shabbat

Supporters said the sport's governing body was ‘disrespectful to her faith’ by not holding the trials on a different date


A Jewish table tennis star who once defeated Rafael Nadal has missed the chance to represent her country at the Olympics because trials for the team take place over Shabbat.

Estee Ackerman, 18, has won multiple gold medals at domestic championships and ranks 33rd in the country, but will not be able to compete in the team selection because she is Orthodox and does not play sports on the Jewish day of rest.

She said she was crushed to not have the opportunity to try out.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was among groups calling for the sport’s governing body in the US to accommodate her, saying they would otherwise be disrespectful of her faith.

“Securing a spot for the Olympics should be passed purely on skill and merit,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s chief executive in a letter.

“We therefore urge your organization to reconsider its determination and make concerted efforts to allow Estee to compete.”

Ms Ackerman first made headlines in the summer of 2013 when, aged just 11, she defeated Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal.

Nadal, in the prime of his career, went on to win the US Open hard court tennis tournament a few weeks later.

Table tennis trials for this summer’s Olympic Games are due to take place in California later this month but a registration deadline passed last Saturday without a decision to allow Ms Ackerman to compete.

Her father Glenn had contacted USA Table Tennis in January asking for games to be scheduled on Thursday, before sunset on Friday and on Sunday, the New York Post reported.

She told the newspaper: “I’m confused why they won’t work with me. I’m serious and dedicated. I enjoy the toughest of the toughest competition.

“I would love to go to Tokyo [for the Olympics] this summer. I think I should get the opportunity to try out.”

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