by Wade Townsend
Budapest – Hungarian Open
Budapest hosts the first tournament of the 2017 ITTF World Tour.
It’s a perfect destination to start the Tour; at the inaugural World Table Tennis Championships in 1926, both the Men’s and Women’s Singles titles were won by Hungarians. Hungary went on to dominate the sport for almost a decade. The centre of the city sits on the banks of the Danube is a World Heritage Site. Stroll along the beautiful blue Danube at night and take in the spectacular site of the Hungarian Parliament Building. The architectural marvel was completed in 1904 and more than hundred years later it is still the tallest building in the nation’s capital.
New Delhi – Indian Open
New Delhi has an energy and intensity that is unrivalled. Just step out the door and be encountered by street markets and local cuisine that will hit your tastebuds for six. Just keep an eye on the traffic when crossing the street; it’s like a traffic jam that’s moving at 60 miles an hour. Host of the World Championships in 1987, New Delhi was the city in which the legend Jan-Ove Waldner won his first individual medal, losing in the final to Jiang Jialiang.
It was also the city where Waldner went missing in action during the team event with a bout of ‘Delhi belly’; but that’s just all part of the experience. New Delhi is a modern city unlike any other, being truly multi-ethnic. Urdu, Punjabi, English, Tamil, Nepali and Marathi are just a few of the languages that can be heard about the streets. Hungry for another sports fix after the table tennis?
Doha – Qatar Open
It only seems appropriate that Doha will host the first Platinum event of 2017. The city is composed of shining metal towers, rivalling the most polished of platinum. Doha has been recently voted one of the New7Wonders; that’s right, the entire city is a wonder in itself. Visit the Museum of Islamic Arts Park and check out the Doha skyline. A mashup of buildings fighting for dominance for the skyline.
JörgenPersson made a short coaching stint in Qatar in 2005, so if you visit some the clubs you may find some locals with a remarkably good backhand smash.
Tokyo – Japan Open
Sushi, soba, sake, sumo, samurai and Sailor Moon. Tokyo is the most populated city in the world, and outside of Los Angeles is probably has the biggest influence on pop culture worldwide.
Sometimes it may be a tight squeeze to get on the train, but then again, if you haven’t experienced Shinjuku in rush-hour, then have you truly been to Tokyo? Visit Inokashira park, where Ichiro Ogimura, World Champion and former ITTF President, would do kilometres of squat jumps in the freezing cold. Feeling inspired by the table tennis? Head to Shibuya after the Japan Open and checkout one of the table tennis bars right across from the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world.
Chengdu – China Open
China, the spiritual home of table tennis. If you are after a table tennis holiday, you can’t go wrong with China, and Chengdu may be top of your list of places to visit. The city has some of the most famous table tennis clubs in the world and has produced some of the world’s top players. Or just walk down the street and find some locals carving it up on an outdoor table. But be warned, these aren’t your average hobby players. Meanwhile, Chengdu is also the home of the Giant Panda. After you’ve had your photo taken with local star Zhu Yuling, hop on over to the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base and have your photo taken with an equally cute panda.
Where would you like to see the World Tour head? Comment on Facebook which city would make the perfect host for a World Tour event.