2018 has been a history-making year for Table Tennis in so many ways, for which we can all be very proud.
Our sport showed the world just what an immense unifying power it possesses, when the North and South Korean Women’s Team joined forces to play as one Unified Korea at the 2018 World Team Championships.
We saw the reunification of the teams again at the Korean Open, where the Mixed Doubles pair of Jang Woojin and Cha Hyo Sim claimed Gold in front of their fans, before earning Silver medals at this year’s World Tour Grand Finals, also in Korea.
The players, coaches, staff and everyone involved in this unique initiative are a real credit not only to the world of Table Tennis, but to mankind and we will of course continue our commitments to the Korean cause through 2019 and beyond.
Thanks to the ITTF Foundation, instrumental in their support of the Unified Korea campaign after being officially launched earlier in the year, there will be an increasing number of humanitarian projects to promote peace and break down social barriers through Table Tennis.
Further proof of our sport’s power to unite people from across the globe came resoundingly on 6 April at World Table Tennis Day: 94,000 people at 579 events in 97 countries all took part in a true day of celebration, where Table Tennis once again was the tool to a greater good. We are striving for even higher participation in 2019!
Our constant mission to grow the game is also at the centre of our decision for a revolutionary expansion of the World Championships to ensure maximum participation of ITTF member associations, thus better reflecting our enviable position of having national associations in all 226 countries around the world, the first International Federation to do so.
2018 was the year that Table Tennis excited a global fanbase likenever before. Our athletes’ unbelievable technical skill and the breath-taking rallies on show have attracted people in their billions to tune in on TV, online streaming and social media.
Ground-breaking figures in viewership are also driving unprecedented commercial growth and record marketing revenue. We struck an historic deal with Sportsmaster to work together to grow commercial revenues on our way to our biggest ever rights cycle in 2021. Meanwhile, our collaboration agreement with T2 Asia Pacific, also headed up by Mr Frank Ji, which will allow us to test new innovations to improve the commercial value of the sport.
With record-high prize money on offer at Tour events and at World Cups, not to mention a much-improved all-round sports presentation of ITTF events, we are already seeing the fruits of increased investment. At the same time, Para Table Tennis is constantly on the rise with better event organization and participation thanks to the work of new staff members, while the ITTF is also running more development courses than ever before. All of this stands for proof that Table Tennis is establishing itself among the elite sports.
This was the year in which we announced our first ever Strategic Plan, which will guide us under the new ITTF vision “Table Tennis. For All. For Life.” under the five key pillars of the ITTF’s direction: Organisation & Governance, High Performance & Development, International Events, Promotion and Revenue. In short, we have set ourselves ambitious and sustainable objectives to ensure the bright future for Table Tennis that we all want.
Our new ITTF team is growing faster and stronger than ever, with more recruitment of professional staff and a new staff structure in place to make the organization more professional, epitomized by the recent move of many staff members to a cutting-edge, modern Asia-Pacific office in Singapore.
This all sets us up full of energy and enthusiasm for the coming year, where we will look forward to the World Table Tennis Championships in Budapest, Hungary, the Team World Cup in Tokyo, Japan, the Women’s and Men’s World Cups in Chengdu, China, as well as an improved ITTF World Tour and hundreds of other Table Tennis events all around the world!
We are also close to announcing several new sponsors and partners, as well as continuing to grow our professional staff to better service the sport and our members.
We can all agree that 2018 was our best year yet, but what’s even more exciting is we are ready to take Table Tennis to another level altogether in 2019!
Thank you to everyone for making this happen and we can’t wait to get going again.
Happy New Year!