03 Oct 2018

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Future Events Working Group met in Alicante, Spain on 17 & 18 September 2018 to discuss strategies to ensure 100% participation of all 226-member National Associations into the new World Championships system.

The 2018 ITTF Board of Directors Meeting in Halmstad approved the expansion of the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships starting in 2021 which will see the creation of regional and qualification stages that will lead into the World Table Tennis Championships final.

The meeting, which was the Working Group’s first meeting with new members, including technical experts from each continent on board, made a lot of progress through the 2-day meeting.

With the goal of having full participation of all National Associations in mind, the Working Group focused discussions around how to ensure that all countries across the globe could play in the World Table Tennis Championships continental and regional stages leading into the World Table Tennis Championships finals.

Tony KIESENHOFER, Chair of the ITTF Future Events Working Group shared: “When making fundamental change for a better future we expect that a new direction will face thorough scrutiny. In the end, I was pleased that while looking at their continental realities and interests, the members of the group engaged with a bigger picture discussion: A World Championships that aims to take place around the world, with media and spectator engagement and over a longer period of time. This new model puts a clear emphasis on engaging and helping with the development of the associations that are currently not participating in the World Championships.”

“I think it became clear to all that the ITTF’s investment in this new project will be at the early stages of the World Championships, this makes good sense to me for reasons of participation, visibility and public engagement – as a result, I am convinced that such a model will result in a significantly greater table tennis economy that will bring the resources for worldwide table tennis development, not as a political token, but as part of a viable business plan.”

ITTF CEO Steve DAINTON stated after the meeting, “After two days of fruitful discussion I was mainly pleased that there was a large focus placed on the overall system needed for the future of the new and expanded World Table Tennis Championships. With the goal to increase visibility of our sport in all corners of the World and to have all our 226 members fully active in our events a new and excellent system is absolutely necessary. It was also good to have the meeting at the European Championships as we could hear also at their congress that there is still a lot of doubt about how to achieve these goals. However, after the meetings I do believe we are on track and we will ensure events that allow more people around the world to experience our sport, see it in the media and to create record attendance at a World Table Tennis Championships.”

ITTF Competition Director, Vicky ELEFTHERIADE added: “The Future Events Working Group had two days of constructive discussions and inspiring exchange of ideas. It was important to share views on how we can help table tennis and players benefit from the new and expanded World Championships system. The road to the World Championships Finals will be led by dynamic formula considering a number of factors – for defining a number of quota places per Continent and a number of meaningful events. The big focus and required resources will be put in developing appealing events on a Regional and Continental level. Events, from the early stages of the World Championships to the World Championships Finals, which can showcase table tennis players from all corners of the world.”

The Future Events Working Group will present their final plan for approval at the 2019 ITTF Board of Directors meeting in Budapest, Hungary during the 2019 World Table Tennis Championships.

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