2 July 2018, Singapore, The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) today announced revolutionary plans to professionalize the sport by 2021. As part of the announcement, the ITTF signed an agreement with Sportsmaster to set up a new professional tournament platform in 2021 with an integrated commercial programme that will take the sport to the next level.
The strategy unifies the ITTF World Tour, TTX (Table Tennis X), World Veterans Tour and T2APAC League, under ITTF’s new professional platform. With this, table tennis will become one of the first sports to have its world championships and truly professional platforms under one roof connected to its world ranking and Olympic Qualification systems.
Innovation and change for players
A major part of the Sportsmaster contract is to assist the ITTF to fully professionalize its World Tour. As part of this deal in 2019 and 2020, the ITTF will grant T2APAC the rights to arrange Diamond events. In doing so, T2APAC will act as an innovation engine testing the feasibility of new initiatives that will help ensure that the Seamaster ITTF World Tour will be restructured and taken to the next level and transform the future of the sport in 2021. These include new gameplay formats, ball-tracking technology, player management and broadcast innovations, etc.
If this proves to be successful, the ITTF will consider with all its stakeholders, a milestone shift for the way it’s events deal with players and event organizers.
Commercial rights availability driving the change
ITTF currently have commercial rights agreement for the ITTF World Tour, TTX and World Veterans Tour with Sportsmaster until 2020, and the ITTF will then go to market in 2019 with a fully integrated commercial programme covering 2021 and beyond.
ITTF CEO Steve DAINTON stated: “With our commercial rights in 2021 becoming available, we have analyzed our core product offerings to ensure they provide the maximum commercial value. To make this happen, we have pushed through instrumental changes to our products to really transform table tennis into one of the leading sports globally.
“During meetings at the 2018 World Table Tennis Championships, the ITTF approved the first massive step by expanding the World Table Tennis Championships. Today we announce the next big step, which is our new professional platform. This will be quite unique for a sport having its World Championships and a separate yet truly professional platform under one roof, which is all connected to the world ranking and Olympic qualification, which we believe will make us pioneers in the sporting world.”
ITTF President Thomas WEIKERT stated: “This is potentially one of the most significant steps that we have taken as a federation. It is a great step for us as we professionalize the sport and create a brand new proposition for the players and fans together with the ITTF family.
This change is a result of many years of support and synergy with various partners in the sport. We must acknowledge the vision of Mr Frank JI who has spearheaded the development of this partnership.”
At the announcement, Sportsmaster Founder Frank JI stated: “Table tennis has massive untapped commercial potential. Over the past few years, we’ve worked with the ITTF to unlock this commercial potential and believe that together we can professionalize and turn table-tennis into a leading sport globally”