The ITTF AGM is taking place tomorrow ©ITTF

Thomas Weikert and Jean-Michel Saive have spent a final day of lobbying here on the eve of an increasingly fractious and bitter campaign to be elected President of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). 

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the CCD Congress Center Düsseldorf is due to take place here alongside the ITTF World Championships, which started yesterday. 

Weikert,  who replaced Adham Sharara as President in 2014, is seen as the narrow favourite.

The election, though, is considered closer than initially anticipated and Saive's supporters are convinced that the Belgian former world number one has a realistic chance of success. 

Weikert today published a "100 day plan" of promises he plans to introduce if he is elected by the 222 Member Federations. 

This includes a "re-evaluation of ITTF finances to increase prize money for athletes and improve development opportunities for all National Federations".

The 55-year-old German has also pledged to reform other areas, including ethics, the constitution and other "digital and communication innovations".

Germany's Thomas Weikert has delivered a 100 day plan of promises today ©Getty Images
Germany's Thomas Weikert has delivered a 100 day plan of promises today ©Getty Images

Saive, 47, has also unveiled an "11 in 11" policy of pledges he would introduce within 11 months of election.

This includes doubling the development budget of the ITTF.

He also promised to hire a director of planning and implementation to "put the ITTF on track to become one of the top federations in the world".

Saive, the former world number one, has been criticised for a lack of experience within the ITTF.

He has, however, served as chairman of the Athletes' Committee at the European Olympic Committees.

Weikert is advocating continuity and stability, although questions have been raised over his supposedly authoritarian leadership style.

ITTF chief executive Judit Farago is currently suspended on full pay following an apparent breakdown in relations with Weikert.

Weikert has also endured an increasingly fractious relationship with his predecessor Sharara, now the chairman of the ITTF.

The pair used to be close allies but Weikert has repeatedly accused the Canadian of masterminding Saive's campaign in recent weeks.

Weikert has also alleged that a company linked to Sharara had offered payments to delegates from Oceania to cover their travel fees here in return for electoral support.

Sharara has denied any wrongdoing and threatened to take legal action if the allegations continue.

Europe, unsurprisingly given the heritage of the two candidates, is considered a major battleground.

European Table Tennis Federation President Ronald Kramer has publicly backed Weikert.

He has been supported by Federations in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany and Portugal.

Saive supporters, though, estimate that they could gain as many as 50 per cent of the bloc's 58 voting members.

Belgium's Jean-Michel Saive has unveiled
Belgium's Jean-Michel Saive has unveiled "11 priorities" for the next 11 months ©ITTF

Africa Table Tennis Federation's President Khaled El-Salhy and ruling Executive Committee have declared for Saive.

Other countries, including Egypt, where El-Salhy is from, as well as Tunisia and Kenya, have announced they plan to support Weikert.

Egyptian Table Tennis Federation President Alaa Meshref circulated a letter among the membership, seen by insidethegames, criticising "misleading information" suggesting Africa was united behind the Belgian.

The Oceania Table Tennis Federation also officially support Weikert, although it is thought the continent is actually split between the two.

Asia and North America are considered more supportive of Weikert but Saive enjoys strong backing from Latin America.

Qatar's Khalil Al-Mohannadi, who planned to stand for President himself before withdrawing to focus on defending his position of deputy president, is also an active and public supporter of Weikert.

Table tennis powerhouse China are officially neutral but are generally considered more likely to back Weikert.

Swing voters, including those who have given indications of support to both candidates, could also prove key.

"I’m convinced that I have a majority, a comfortable majority," Weikert told insidethegames today.

"When I speak to associations and see letters they have sent, or what I have been told, I am sure I will win the election."

He admitted, though, that "it is clear that the structure or constitution has to change" following recent problems.

"Today, as I was finally eating in the venue’s restaurant, I have received so much signs of encouragement from players and coaches and seen how players are proud that one of them is standing," said Saive.

"Of course, the delegates are the ones who vote, and my feeling today is very positive and optimistic. 

"In sport, you can never be sure of who the winner will be, that is what makes it so beautiful."

Thomas Bach, pictured playing table tennis Rio 2016, is attending the World Championships in his home country ©Getty Images
Thomas Bach, pictured playing table tennis Rio 2016, is attending the World Championships in his home country ©Getty Images

Both candidates will deliver speeches during the AGM tomorrow.

In a major U-turn by the ITTF, it is now due to be almost completely open to the media after insidethegames highlighted the fact that they were banned. 

Only the actual voting part of the election will be closed, with speeches, as well as all other agenda items, open.

"To ensure transparency to the media during the ITTF Elections, the ITTF Executive Committee has decided to allow media to have extended access to the AGM," they said in a statement today.

A total of 14 candidates are also running for eight positions as vice-president tomorrow.

Other items on the agenda include the approval of an ITTF Ethics Commission.

The membership applications of Cape Verde, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, and The Bahamas is expected to be ratified to take the total number of ITTF members to 226.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is due to arrive here tomorrow evening before attending the World Table Tennis Championships on Thursday (June 1).