ITTF President President Thomas Weikert has admitted he has "doubts" about the European Games concept ©Getty Images

International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) President Thomas Weikert has revealed he has "doubts" about the European Games concept and suggested the sport could split from the event to join the rival multi-sport European Championships.

In an interview with German radio station Deutschlandfunk, Weikert criticised the timing of this year's European Games in Minsk and admitted the ITTF were "not happy" that the event would form a major part of qualification for table tennis at Tokyo 2020.

Weikert, ITTF President since 2014, claimed the ITTF will not receive any financial or marketing benefit from the sport being on the Minsk 2019 programme.

The German claimed there was not enough room in the sport's schedule for the Games, due to take place from June 21 to 30.

"We are not happy about that," he said. 

"Either the European Games 2019 should not serve as an Olympic qualification or the European Championships later in the year in Nantes should be the qualifier.

"That would have been an alternative for us."

Weikert claimed the European Championships could be a better fit for table tennis following the success of the first edition in Berlin and Glasgow last year.

The inaugural event combined the Continental Championships in seven sports - athletics, swimming, cycling, golf, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon - and attracted high levels media coverage and strong television viewing figures.

It has emerged as a rival to the European Games - the first edition of which was held in Baku four years ago - as Europe's leading track and field athletes and swimmers competed in Berlin and Glasgow but not in the Azerbaijan capital.

Table tennis was on the programme at the first European Games in Baku in 2015 ©Getty Images
Table tennis was on the programme at the first European Games in Baku in 2015 ©Getty Images

At Baku 2015 Weikert's Germany finished top of the medals table in tennis with two golds, including Dimitrij Ovtcharov in the men's singles. 

The European Olympic Committees (EOC) and organisers of the European Championships have insisted they can co-exist.

"It was very prestigious: a lot of TV, a lot of advertising and there table tennis must try to come in," Weikert said of Berlin Glasgow 2018, marking a rare example of a head of a European sporting federation publicly voicing their preference for one event over the other.

Weikert also admitted he had concerns about attracting hosts for the European Games in future following the process which led to Belarus securing the hosting rights for the 2019 edition.

The event was first awarded to The Netherlands before the country withdrew.

Russia emerged as the EOC's preferred replacement but the state-sponsored doping scandal scuppered their ambitions and the Games were instead given to Belarus, a country which Weikert is "not in favour of competing in" owing to its autocratic leadership.

"I still have my doubts about the European Games," he said. 

"I believe that one has found an organiser with great difficulty. 

"Table tennis is included, which is generally good for our sport, but not this year because of the many competitions."