As we cross the half way line for 2019, I am sure we all look back in amazement at how fast the time seems to be going. It seems like just yesterday that we were enjoying the beautiful city of Budapest and a wonderful World Table Tennis Championships. Now many weeks later it’s my pleasure to give you all a small update on the progress of some of the key work that is happening since then and in general in 2019:
World Table Tennis
Our new commercial vehicle as you may have read is coming towards the final stages of a tender process to look for a Strategic partner. Five very well-known large companies/ sports marketing agencies will present to the ITTF Tender selection panel at the end of the month. The current interest and response have been fascinating, and the team is pushing forward to ensure that when 2021 starts the real work of the new ITTF is visible to everyone. A transformation and modernisation of our sport and events that will push table tennis to the next level and secure our future for at least the next decade. The main goal being to ensure our sport has more revenues to invest back to our key stakeholders. We look forward to being able to present these plans at the end of this year.
Home of Table Tennis
What a response we have received for this. We could never have imagined such a strong interest from all over the globe to bring the ITTF and potentially the Headquarters of the ITTF to different countries and cities. The response has been so positive that we had to take a small step back and relook at the overall approach to ensuring we do it in a extremely professional way. We have now hired an international design studio to ensure our vision is truly understood by all those that are interested. This vision, along with the economic impact analysis, plus the legal process for selection will be revealed around September. By Busan World Championships time, in March next year, we hope to present various options for the new home of table tennis.
The interest in hosting future World Table tennis Championships finals is very pleasing. Houston and Chengdu and the vote surrounding these selections was already a highlight of the 2019 AGM, as historically we could witness some competitive process in the deciding of the event. This has been a refreshing moment for our sport. The final work now begins to ensure the system of stages and qualification for the finals has a positive impact on our 226 members. The ITTF will host a follow up meeting with the continental federations at the end of August to move closer to finalising that. We have been developing our continental agreements to start to prepare for this change. At the same time, the 2023 WTTC Finals hosting process will open very soon and we have already heard of new markets being interested to bid, following the necessary reform our membership embraced recently.
In 2018 in Halmstad we did a first step to improve our Constitution. The minor changes adopted last year, helped the ITTF to place itself in the middle group of Summer Sport Federations in terms of Good Governance, through a scale elaborated by the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF). As we grow, we need to stay vigilant and to pay even more attention to our standards on Governance, and that’s why the ITTF is again looking at further strengthening our Constitution. But as we aim to be more professional, same as we have done with the World Table Tennis, with the Home of Table Tennis and with the WTTC Finals, it was time to get support from experts from the field of Sports Laws in our second reform. Thus, this time we are hiring expert legal advice to work with us on this project to ensure we can reach after Busan AGM the top 5 of the better Governed International Federations. It is clear to the ITTF that our system must better link the ITTF with the Continental Federations, so we all work in the common benefit of our sport above particular interests, or else we must work more directly with the ITTF Members, our 226 Associations. It’s not easy to make positive impacts for the sport if the ITTF and the Continental Federations are in a competitive state and not working collaboratively together.
- Building the team – The professional staff continues to grow as the ITTF expands. We will soon send out a separate note with several changes in the ITTF staffing structure which we have been reviewing after 2 years of operations.
- World Veterans Tour events will kick off in 2019 – it is true that we did rush this out and it will take time to build, but it will grow from strength to strength in the future.
- TTX events – we will see several major events in 2019 – Rome and Denver are ready to go and there are several other projects that we are finalising to make it more about the youth. Could it be part of the next Youth Olympic Games in Senegal?
- Video Review System – Challenge your opponent’s service or an umpire’s decision? Whilst maybe controversial, we will trial some ideas this year to hopefully be ready for Busan.
- High Performance training camps – again a start, but a lot of work to do to ensure there are more stars from different parts of the world.
- First ever Parkinson’s World Table Tennis Championships will be held in Westchester New York city. This event demonstrates the ITTF’s positive approach to show the wonderful health benefits of table tennis.
- World Ranking – the entries for our World Tour continue to increase and it shows you that a dynamic system can work to ensure quality events and the best players play at the top events.
And whilst this just touches the surface of the current activities, we have our ongoing Development projects, work of the Foundation which will be inaugurated at the end of September, a move to further professionalise our Equipment Department and looking how to improve in Para Table Tennis – just to name a few things. As well in just one week we will see the first T2 event, we are very hopeful they show us how a professionally managed and operated event can help transform how events are delivered – the ITTF is watching with great interest to see how serious it is after we have helped them feel part of our ecosystem with bonus World Ranking points.
A busy, extremely busy, first half of the year, but also exciting as we lead up to 2021 when we expect a new era for our sport.
Exciting times ahead, stay tuned!