24 Nov 2022

81 years after an African nation last hosted the ITTF World Championships, Cairo in 1939, the prestigious tournament has been confirmed to be returning to the continent for only the second time; Durban is named as the host of the 2023 edition - news that has been met with great excitement across Africa.

The African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF) has described the award as a deserved honour for Africa.

by Olalekan Okusan

Khaled El-Salhy, ATTF President, was a happy man on Monday 28th September when the city of Durban was declared as host.

“I am extremely happy and honoured that my continent “Africa” will host the biggest table tennis event in 2023 after the same event took place in Cairo, Egypt in 1939.

I was not surprised with the overwhelming support given to South Africa during the voting exercise. It is not only from our family in Africa but from all over the world due to the modest presentation from SATTB coupled with trust that it is time now for Africa to host such World title events. I think we deserve it in Africa and we have full respect for Germany with the near perfect presentation.

This is also a big honour for all Africans especially the ATTF Executive Committee and all who are part of the dream to be part of the historic moment. I am full of confidence that the 2023 WTTC in Durban, South Africa will be a fantastic event organised professionally with unique African flavour. Let us not all forget that South Africa already hosted the Football World Cup successfully in 2010 and the South Africa Table Tennis Board (SATTB) has hosted several international and continental events successfully in the last 20 years.”  Khaled El-Salhy

An excited SATTB President, Joe Carrim believes the staging of the tournament will help to ignite interest in the sport.

“Staging the World Championships in 2023 is an opportunity to showcase table tennis to all South Africans whilst sharing a beautiful part of our country with the world. Winning this bid is also a tribute to our former leaders during and after the struggle for our liberation, most notably Mr Cassim Bassa and Dr Errol Vawda, both from the City of Durban.

The hosting will help to professionalise the sport in South Africa, establish academies in at least four provinces, establish a high altitude training centre in Lesotho, and have a sponsored regional circuit in place to ensure athlete development as global competitors.

The vote is an endorsement of the new ITTF vision. It is the beginning of the transformation process within the ITTF. This majority vote in the face of a very determined bid by Germany reinforces our belief in our ability to host a championship that will linger in the minds of all participants as the most unique experience.

The portrayal of African unity brought joy to my heart. We have consistently spoken about the need to stand united and we have seen this emerge with the development of a continental strategic plan, recognising the need to constantly shape and use the strategy as a road map for continuous growth and development.

I am a proud father looking at a bright future and feeling blessed that we are presented with an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for future generations.” Joe Carrim

Likewise, Andrew Mudibo, the President of Eastern Africa region, was delighted with the level of trust shown to South Africa:

“I think the world united in voting for Africa and the win by Durban reminds us of when the 2010 FIFA World Cup hosted in South Africa. The support given shows that table tennis as a sport is ready to grow and compete with the rest of the international sports in the world.

With the event taking place in South Africa, all eyes will be on Africa to see if we are able to organise and host a world class event. I am confident South Africa will put up a show that will not only make Africa proud, but the whole world.

The staging of the event in Durban, South Africa is an opportunity for Africa to exploit and grow the sport of table tennis in each region and country. African nations should tap into the success of the event so that the sport of table tennis can stop being looked at as a minor sport in Africa.

Africa must also learn how to organise world class events and must support the SATTB in any way possible, as this is our event and we must show the world how we host people. The trust that has been bestowed on South Africa during the recently concluded ITTF AGM is a positive step in making sure that table tennis reaches, and is played in, each part of the world.”  Andrew Mudibo

Professor Germain Karou, the President of Cote d’Ivoire Table Tennis Federation and Secretary General of West Africa region, was clear that South Africa’s past experience of hosting major sporting events was a major factor in forming the winning bid:

“South Africa’s capacity to host and organise this competition as a country was shown with the FIFA World Cup. Also, this is another chance to honour the African continent that had not yet had the privilege that other continents have had in staging such tournaments. I must also commend the massive support from the continent.” Germain Karou

Positive responses, it was the same from Lotfi Guerfel, President of the Tunisia Table Tennis Federation:

“I would link to congratulate South Africa for being honoured to host the 2023 World Championships, and to thank ITTF and all countries for their overwhelming support given to South Africa during the voting exercise. As President of the Tunisian Table Tennis Federation, I feel honoured and proud, because supporting South Africa is in fact a great contribution to develop and promote table tennis on the African continent.

Africa should rally support for South Africa to stage a befitting tournament. This will be thorough collaboration and sharing experience in organising such big events. The organisation committee of the 2022 World Junior Championship in Tunisia will have the great pleasure of including guest members from South Africa, later sharing with them the experience and evaluation of the championships’ success.

The 2023 World Championship in South Africa is another step in making table tennis a sport for all! It’s time now to move to Africa, especially that we have noticed many African countries have hosted very successfully different international tournaments with Tunisia, Egypt, Nigeria and Morocco serving as good examples. We trust South Africa will tremendously succeed in making the championships a wonderful event, with great success at all levels. As the French proverb says “Appetite comes with eating”, the success of South Africa will open the door to many other African countries which still dream of hosting the World Table Tennis Championships.” Lotfi Guerfel

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