22 Jan 2018

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Future Events Working Group had its 5th working meeting in San Jose, California, USA on January 18 and 19, 2018. The purpose of the meeting was to finalize a proposal to the Executive Committee and eventually to the ITTF Board of Directors to reform the current way the ITTF conducts its World Championships and structures its international events calendar.

The group’s participants included the continental presidents (or their representatives), a representative of the Athletes Commission and ITTF staff.

At the outset of the meeting, Future Events Working Group Chair, Tony Kiesenhofer, gave a brief resumé of the work done to date and reminded the guiding principles of the group:

  • To increase the participation of the number of Member Associations in the World Table Tennis Championships.
  • To grow the global visibility, exposure and footprint of the sport.
  • Create in-demand events that appeal to host cities/countries globally.
  • Ensure Financial sustainable events for all stakeholders, which generate returns to reinvest in the growth and development of table tennis.
  • To showcase players and create heroes.
  • To create a simple, meaningful and easy to understand event calendar.

When achieved, these objectives would underpin a compelling structure of successful and meaningful international events which, in turn, will provide stories for media around the world and increase broadcast content and sponsor revenue.

Furthermore, successful World Table Tennis Championships with an increased footprint will support the ITTF’s goal of becoming a top 5 Olympic sport.

Facilitated by expert sport consultants from Deloitte, the Working Group studied the current structure and format of the World Championships and compared the World Table Tennis Championships to those of other sports.

Following a thorough analysis of the World Championships, the Working Group reached consensus that the scope of both the Individual and Team World Championships should be expanded in such a manner that players from all Member Associations have the opportunity to take part in the World Championships and to qualify for the World Table Tennis Championships Finals through the respective Continental Championships.

The ITTF will establish a staff structure to support continents to establish a first stage of the World Championships on the continental level. Oceania and Europe presented two excellent, forward-looking models of their reorganization of the continental championships, the goals of their reorganization match those identified by the Future Events Working Group.

To turn this new model into a reality, ITTF CEO Steve Dainton agreed to seek a substantial annual ITTF investment to assist the continental first stage events to encourage the increased participation of Member Associations in future World Championships and assist continental federations in the process of building a well-organized, broadcast friendly product.

The Working Group also called on the ITTF Executive Committee to develop a dynamic method of establishing a continental quota allocation for the World Championships Finals, taking into consideration factors such as world ranking, participation in continental qualification, performance at previous World Championships Finals, ensuring that each Continental Federation will be well represented at the Finals.

Closing the meeting, the Working Group drafted a report that will be presented to the Executive Committee with all members of the group agreeing on its contents.

Working Group members present in San Jose:

  • Gordon Kaye, President, ITTF North America, Host
  • Ronald Kramer, President, ETTU
  • Juan Vila, President, LATTU
  • Dhanraj Choudhary, Representative, ATTU
  • Farah Farah Hassan, Representative, ATTF
  • James Morris, Representative, OTTF; ITTF EC Member
  • Iulia Necula, Representative, Athletes Commission
  • Steve Dainton, ITTF CEO
  • Didier Leroi, ITTF, Head of World Championships & Continental Events
  • Tony Kiesenhofer, Future Events Working Group, Chair
  • Deloitte Expert Sport Consultants

Tony Kiesenhofer, Future Events Working Group, Chair:

I am pleased that the members of the group agreed on a proposal to the Executive Committee. The presentations of Europe and Oceania demonstrated that there are different possibilities and different continental realities; however, both models answered the need to increase the presence of the Table Tennis World Championships around the world for a prolonged period of time. Finally, we currently have players from fewer than 50% of our member associations participating in the World Championships; we must work hard to increase this number.

Steve Dainton, ITTF CEO:

It’s been a long but important process to get to this final proposal of the working group but now we really believe that we can build on the success of the past years of great Development work to have 226 member associations and really find a way to get them active and part of our international events. Most importantly the new system will allow us to find ways to have far better media coverage globally and give all countries a chance to get table tennis on the TV in their country.

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