19 Nov 2020

ITTF CEO Steve Dainton shares his joy during the #RESTART series in China, as fans return to watch the sport they love.

After eight months without international table tennis activity, the #RESTART series has been delivering three high-profile events this month in China:

  • Dishang 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup: 8 – 10 November in Weihai
  • Dishang 2020 ITTF Men’s World Cup: 13 – 15 November in Weihai
  • Bank of Communications 2020 ITTF Finals: 19 – 22 November in Zhengzhou

With very few sports having managed to resume events on an international level in 2020, it is clear that the pandemic continues to pose significant challenges to the industry as a whole. As such, the work required to get table tennis back on track has been monumental.

Furthermore, fans have been allowed to attend the Bank of Communications 2020 ITTF Finals, currently being held in Zhengzhou. While COVID-19 measures are being followed strictly to ensure the safety of everyone in attendance, it is clear that the spectators are enjoying the opportunity to watch their star athletes from within the walls of the Gymnasium of Zhengzhou Olympic Sports Center.

“In Weihai, we welcomed back the players. In Zhengzhou, we are welcoming back the fans,” said a proud ITTF CEO, Steve Dainton. “Being here is hugely emotional. We feel proud, we feel happy and we have so many emotions that it’s hard to describe.

“To restart table tennis has been a huge effort. Back in June, we knew that this pandemic was not going away soon and that organising international events would be very difficult. We knew that we had to try to find a special way. Therefore, when we got approval from our Executive Committee (EC), our whole team worked very hard to find solutions. We also have to thank the German Table Tennis Association and the Table Tennis Association of Thailand, who had originally been set to host the Men’s and Women’s World Cups respectively, for agreeing to move the events elsewhere.

“We knew that we needed to group events together, so we carried out a process to ask all national associations who would be interested to host the #RESTART series. After our analysis, the EC confirmed that the best place to stage the events would be China, so we really went hard to work in order to bring all the players here, to follow all the new COVID-19 protocols and to ensure a successful return to international table tennis.

“There are so many people to thank: the Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA) who have done an amazing job led by President Liu Guoliang, our Executive Committee, the Local Organising Committees in Weihai and Zhengzhou, the extremely dedicated staff of the ITTF and CTTA, who have worked so diligently for us to make this happen. I also want to thank especially the players who have made big sacrifices to be here and go through different circumstances to prepare for these events. Now we can proudly say that the hard work is paying off. We are back in action and the future for table tennis is bright!”

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Day 4 - Bank of Communications 2020 ITTF Finals