Following a successful first event of the year – the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open in Budapest – the preparations, excitement and anticipation are all building towards the sport’s showpiece event, the Liebherr 2019 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships, which will be held in the Hungarian capital between 21-28 April.
The biggest Table Tennis event of the year may be less than three months away, but at the same time, the ITTF is planning ahead and making good progress to introduce positive reform for the 2021 World Championships:
“Robust & Fair System” for World Championships
Changes to the World Table Tennis Championships active from 2021 will see the competition expanded so that players from all Member Associations have the opportunity to take part by qualifying through their respective regional World Championships stages.
“We have been working hard to create a robust system, which is fair and reasonable for all regions of the world, but which also allows us to grow our markets globally,” opened ITTF CEO, Steve Dainton.
“We want to have as close to 100% of our Member Associations participating in the regional stages of the World Championships, which will increase the visibility of our sport around the globe.
“Ahead of this year’s World Championships in Budapest, we will show that we have a professional plan in place, ready for the Board of Directors to then pass final approval for the 2021 World Championships.”
This expansion of the World Championships is one of the key drivers for the ITTF’s commercial growth plan for 2021.
Commercial Vehicle in motion ahead of 2021
In 2021, the ITTF will be going to market with all of its commercial rights for the most significant rights cycle in its history.
“As approved by the ITTF Executive Committee, we will be setting up a commercial vehicle to house our commercial rights, which we will be looking for strategic partners to invest into to accelerate the growth of our sport. The ITTF is currently working with Deloitte to make this a reality and the tender to look for partners for the commercial vehicle starting from the 2021 rights cycle will be released in the coming months.
“This is the most important focus area for the future of the ITTF, as getting this right will determine the financial resources of the ITTF for the next decade or so.
“It will enable us to keep improving our key products, the World Championships, the World Tour and the Challenge Series, whilst continuing to raise prize money, to help better meet market demands.
“All of this is most beneficial for the athletes, who ultimately are the stars of the show. We strongly believe that, at present, their benefits in international Table Tennis properties are far below what they should be, which is purely down to our current commercial situation.
“We are looking to turn this on its head, not only increasing their prize money, but also the services on offer to them and treat them like the stars that they are.”
T2Diamond: Growing Commercial Opportunities
Three T2Diamond events will take place in 2019, as the ITTF collaborate with T2APAC to run the events as part of a greater strategy to professionalise the ITTF World Tour.
The T2Diamond events adopt a progressive competition format that creates a fresh and bold entertainment experience for Table Tennis athletes and fans across the globe.
“We hope to see that the T2 model will prove to the market how best to commercialise Table Tennis. At the ITTF we are flexible and open to new ideas of taking the sport to a new level and success for the T2 events would demonstrate that there is a much better chance for Table Tennis to grow as fast as we’d like.”
The Home of Table Tennis
“Whilst this is an objective for beyond 2019, the ITTF is already planning ahead to set up a true home of Table Tennis.
“This won’t just be an office, but a permanent base for our High Performance Strategy and state-of-the-art training facilities. The ultimate goal would be to have a mini museum, TTX tables and a retail store too. We want people to stop by and enjoy a game of Table Tennis. Why not?!
“Hopefully this is the place that can help create the next stars of Table Tennis. After all, we need to be nurturing a new generation of star players from different parts of the world to ensure an exciting future for the sport and one which will attract more and more spectators and supporters from across the globe.”
Whilst fully committed to these four key focus areas, the ITTF continues to work hard on a daily basis to achieve a whole range of targets over the course of this calendar year.
Stay tuned for further updates from ITTF CEO, Steve Dainton, and keep up with the dynamic world of international Table Tennis and our upcoming events: