2020 has been the most challenging year in living memory, as the COVID-19 pandemic brought the international table tennis event calendar to a grinding halt early in the year. Many players, coaches and fans were confined to their homes or their local communities, unable to play or watch their beloved sport in the electric international environment that has lit up so many table tennis careers and engaged a captive worldwide audience over the years.
Ever since the pandemic struck, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has been working tirelessly to bring table tennis back to the global community in a safe and secure manner. While it has not been an easy journey, the ITTF would like to express its heartfelt gratitude towards all the stakeholders for their support in these challenging times.
After months of grit, hard work and preparation, we are proud to finally announce the return of table tennis into the international arena. Welcome to #RESTART!
#RESTART THE ACTION!
#RESTART is a special series of events scheduled for November 2020, taking a regional approach to ensure a smooth transition from national to international activity for players.
#RESTART will feature three of the most prestigious ITTF events (the Uncle Pop 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup, the Liebherr 2020 ITTF Men’s World Cup and the 2020 ITTF Finals), all of which will be held in China with support from the Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA). Therefore, the Women’s and Men’s World Cups will no longer be taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, and Düsseldorf, Germany, as originally planned.
“Ensuring a safe return to international table tennis has been our utmost priority ever since the pandemic broke out and so I am delighted that, with the fantastic support and hard work carried out by everyone at the ITTF over several months, we have managed to get events back up and running before the end of 2020.” – Thomas Weikert, ITTF President
“It is very significant that the ITTF has chosen China as the host to restart competitions after what has been an extremely challenging year for our sport. CTTA is honoured to be able to help bring international table tennis tournaments back into action. Thanks to many months of hard work carried out by the ITTF and CTTA, we are able to come out from the darkness and to celebrate our return to the table. This is a moment of immense joy for all members of the international table tennis family. We are working closely under the guidance and in cooperation with relevant authorities in China and doing everything possible to make the events a resounding success and to keep the players safe at the same time.” – Liu Guoliang, CTTA President
“After many months away from the table, it is extremely important for us to get international table tennis events back running again, and so we extend our thanks to China and CTTA President, Liu Guoliang, for helping us to make this happen. We are also very grateful to our friends in Thailand and especially Germany, who were committed to hosting the Women’s and Men’s World Cups respectively and have been fully cooperative in handing them to China given the very tough circumstances. We therefore thank them for all their hard work and dedication to the cause during this difficult period.” – Steve Dainton, ITTF CEO
STARS ON SHOW
After many months spent apart, #RESTART will be bringing together many of the world’s biggest table tennis stars for some much-anticipated, mouth-watering action!
The World Cups will feature 20 female and 20 male athletes, including the World Champion, qualified players from all completed continental events (Africa, Europe and Pan America) and players selected by world ranking from the other continents (Asia and Oceania) as well as the whole world according to the provisional World Cup playing system. For each World Cup event, there will be maximum two players per national association.
Meanwhile, the top 16 world-ranked male and top 16 world-ranked female players will lock horns in men’s singles and women’s singles competition at the ITTF Finals, where a cap of four players per national association will ensure an exciting spread of star talent from across the globe.
#RESTART provides players with the opportunity to battle it out for highly sought-after world ranking points to all participating players. The ITTF rankings have been frozen since April 2020 when all ITTF activities were suspended due to the pandemic, but now players have an indispensable opportunity to climb the world ranking charts before the end of 2020.
Players competing at the events will be announced shortly. Stay tuned!
HEALTH AND SAFETY
The ITTF is in close collaboration with CTTA to employ due diligence in ensuring that safety measures are in place to protect athletes, coaches, officials and supporting staff within the ‘bubble’.
The ITTF has issued a set of guidelines with mandatory requirements and recommendations to allow athletes and fans to continue to enjoy and participate in our sport during the pandemic.