by Wiebke Scheffler, ITTF Consultant
Leandro Olvech, ITTF Foundation Director, received the distinguished prize on behalf of the International Table Tennis Federation, an event that he had first been invited to celebrate in 2015; then in his position as the ITTF Development Director.
The Sports Business Awards were conceived to celebrate the hard work and achievements of individuals and teams who ensure that the business of sport, in all its various forms happen successfully. The judging panel comprised Chief Executive Officers from across all sports alongside individuals whose knowledge, expertise and experience gave them a special insight into the challenges and demands of sports business success.
It is a major achievement, the concept of World Table Tennis Day being very close to the heart of Thomas Weikert, ITTF President and ITTF Foundation President.
“Having won the third prize in the Sports Business Award 2018 is a fantastic start for our new ITTF Foundation. In my position as the President of both, the ITTF and the ITTF Foundation but even more as a passionate table tennis player, I feel proud of the worldwide table tennis community which has brought our sport once again into the international spotlight. Making the table tennis arena experience as fun and as enjoyable as possible, not just for core fans of the sport but for those who are new to our game is one of the key pillars of my 2017 manifesto, which I am committed to as the ITTF President. I think we are on a good way to achieve this. My deepest thanks to all table tennis lovers who are contributing to make this dream come true and to the ITTF staff who made this possible.” Thomas Weikert
Thomas Weikert with Ryu Seungmin, ITTF Ambassador, at the Z’aatari Refugees Camp in Jordan on Word Table Tennis Day (Photo: courtesy of Lemdro Olvech)
Even if World Table Tennis Day reaches masses, this is not one of its main goals. The goal is to reach people and bring our sport to unusual target groups, non-traditional or hard to reach locations and celebrate it as an inclusive sport, able to be played by all regardless of culture, gender, age, religion or physical ability.
“Once again, World Table Tennis Day has won international recognition. Of course, that makes me and my team proud and motivates us to keep working in this direction. World Table Tennis Day celebrates the joy of our sport. It is made possible by people for people; while we proudly see so many interesting initiatives, World Table Tennis Day gives us the possibility to get in touch with people and to know what’s on in our table tennis family, where are its strengths and weaknesses. These insights helped us to set up the new ITTF Foundation. My special thanks go to all those who shared their World Table Tennis Day celebrations with us and to all who believe in the power of solidarity our sport has.” Leandro Olvech
During the past four years, 6th April has served to introduce table tennis to many people who have never been in touch with our sport.
In terms of numbers, this last edition was the biggest one: 569 events in 97 countries!