2019 has flown by, but this has been a year of outstanding progress at the ITTF. Whilst there are always ups and downs and changes in the environment, I personally feel at the end of this year that the ITTF and table tennis are poised to take some giant strides towards a greater future. In some ways I call 2019 a year of investment where we have put a relatively large amount of resources into projects which we believe will ensure a healthier outlook for our sport, especially when 2021 begins as it’s the moment most of our inherited contracts come to a close and our work really comes to fruition.
Here are some highlights from 2019:
World Table Tennis: this project now gets into full gear after a lengthy process to get buy in from all internal stakeholders and to be sure legally its set up according to modern business practices – this will ensure from 2021 a huge jump and improvement of our products. Looking forward to some brand new events, significant increases in prizemoney for our table tennis athletes, more focus on our Women competitive platforms and a general enhancement of the production of our events.
The Home of Table Tennis project took a lot more time than expected due to the massive interest we received – with a soon to be released (January 15) professional RFP. Finding a modern and symbolic house for our future will be paramount to the future success of the sport and ITTF – the investment and time to ensure we have done this professionally has been an important step this year as well.
The Competition team has worked hard to be preparing for our new World Table Tennis Championships and the structure that is required to achieve the goals we targeted by implementing the change. We will see this start to be rolled out in the next months, with some further updates in Busan. We are confident we can make this a huge success.
We have also been looking into our overall governance with some professional outside assistance. Thinking about how we can make the structure much more modern and at the same time find a way that would get the continents closer to the ITTF. More to come on this one – after good meetings in Zhengzhou we clearly need much more discussion on how to achieve it.
In 2019 we saw our ITTF Foundation come to life with the opening of an office in Leipzig, increased manpower and overall more activity. We saw ITTF hold professional training camps around the world. TTX festivals came to life and the World Veterans Tour kicked off. The number of staff increased again and we are now at over 70 head count. We opened a small office/Lab in Cologne to try and centralize and professionalize our Equipment needs. We trialed several new things: T2 tested some interesting new elements to the sport, in the last two events of the year we also introduced a Video Review system. Financially, the ITTF will see a record turnover again as we continue to grow and grow and start to invest in more regions around the world and open more and more regional offices – North America office being a pilot project and starting to show success.
And this is just to name the key things and not mentioning all the development projects and competitions we hold all over the world – never before has there been the amount of activity like we saw in 2019, and in 2020 we only expect it to be even greater. And a few media stats: An increase of 1 million social media followers (up 36%), 650 million TV viewers around the world, 50 million impressions on our website to name a few media highlights.
So what next, what can we expect and look forward to in this coming year:
- 2020 will be the year World Table Tennis will really come to life and prepare for our future events to thrive – look out for the big announcements throughout the next twelve months.
- 2020 will be the year that will prepare for the next phase of ITTF Development. With new development agreements to be drawn out for the future. Bold new changes will be mapped out.
- We will hopefully find a new home of Table Tennis in 2020. A place that we will all be proud to call home.
- The Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo – let’s hope and work hard to ensure it’s a real showcase of our sport in one of our key markets.
- A first ever World Championships in the Republic of Korea. We are all very excited about that.
- A TTX rollout that will ensure more events and more structure to ensure its future.
Of course without the support of the ITTF Executive Committee and our President, Thomas Weikert, the Deputy President Khalil Al- Mohannadi and the whole Committee, and without the enormous trust we have in our hardworking, talented staff, we would not have the confidence to be so brave and think so big in our approach.
Happy New Year – For All. For Life.