12 Aug 2021

Alaor Azevedo is the longest serving president of any ITTF member association, the Brazilian Table Tennis Confederation (CBTM), assuming the position on Monday 20th January 1986.

He occupied office until 1992, returning in 1995 for another six terms, the current term ends in 2025 after being returned to office in 2021. Under his leadership, the South American nation has emerged from the shadows to become highly competitive on the world stage.

by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Member Relations Media Officer

The former player turned administrator has created a most healthy organisation, one with good governance, and boasts of a $1.5m annual budget. Notably, the hosting of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games boosted the popularity of table tennis in Brazil.

“When I was elected the President of CBTM on January 20, 1986, we had a party of 400 guests, I told them that I wanted to make Brazil world champions, but they looked down on me, it was only my wife that believed me. I was not deterred by their disbelief as I went to work to actualise my dream.” Alaor Azevedo

Rio 2016 effect

Following the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, table tennis became one of the most followed sports at the Games. The icing on the cake for Brazil was the fourth-round finish of Hugo Calderano; his performance drew more followers to the sport.

Additionally, at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Brazil gained four medals. Israel Stroh secured men’s singles class 7 bronze; Iranildo Espindola and Guilherme Marcio da Costa emerged men’s singles class 6 bronze medallists. Similarly, Bruna Alexandre, secured bronze in women’s singles class 10 and with Danielle Rauen the same colour in women’s team class 6-10.

“We were deliberate about our decision to grow the sport in Brazil because we have regional and state associations that CBTM worked with; this has really helped to grow the sport. At our last national tournament in December 2020, we had over 1500 players competing. This for us is a start of a new beginning as we hope that more than 2500 will feature in our next national tournament later this year.” Alaor Azevedo

Staff growth

Significantly a professional structure is now in place, crafted over decades with a grand purpose.

“The secret of my longevity as president is the excellent relationship with state and regional associations; when I assumed office, we had two voluntary staff but now we work professionally with 25 full-time staff.

Strategic plan

Importantly in recent years the administration has been somewhat streamlined.

“Since 2018, we have a new CEO with a new strategic plan that has focus. Prior to this, table tennis was regarded as fun and pleasure, but we have turned the sport into a professional sport and people should view the sport as professional.

In Brazil, two per cent of the country’s budget is allocated to sports, and it is the responsibility of the Brazil Olympic Committee (BOC) to share it among all the sports. Every sport including table tennis knows that they will get a certain amount every year. So, this helps every sport to work harder in getting extra funds to prosecute their programmes and activities annually.

CBTM is among the top 10 sports in terms of social media, while in governance we are number one in Brazil.” Alaor Azevedo

Additionally, federations receive extra funds from the shares, private companies also reward such associations with annual sponsorship; most necessary in recent times.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has really affected us. We could only manage to organise one tournament in 2020, we used to organise between 18 and 20 tournaments annually from regions and states. All the money we use to realise from the tournament goes to the state associations, rich states like São Paolo organise more tournaments.”

Looking ahead

For Azevedo, CTBM is not resting on its laurels and is aiming to unearth more players like Hugo Calderano; that is why the federation set up the Diamond of Future initiative, a scheme that identifies and supports talented players in their quest to improve their skills in the sport.

“In 2009, Calderano was ranked 1129 in the world, in a few years, he has risen to number six in the world. We are investing in the Diamond of the Future initiative that will assist in identifying talented players to attend competitions and training camps under the watchful eyes of top-class coaches. We are sure that Calderano can still play for more than 10 years but we are ready to identify more players like him for Brazil in line with my dream of becoming world champion.” Alaor Azevedo

Hugo Calderano (centre) is setting the standard for Brazilian ambitions

Azevedo is of no doubt hosting the Olympic Games in 2016 has helped to change the fortune of table tennis with a new ultra-modern training centre based in São Paulo, coupled with equipment sharing among the regions and states after the games.

“The Rio Olympic Games has really helped us with a new training centre… We made use of the equipment from Rio for our tournaments. We have the centre well-furnished in world class conditions with enough equipment. I must admit that the Rio Olympics changed our history very much in table tennis.” Alaor Azevedo


Under his leadership, table tennis in Brazil has enjoyed such a great growth leap that Brazilian players not only hold ambitions to conquer the continental stage but are also looking to show their talent internationally as well.

At present, Brazil has several representatives in the top positions of the Olympic and Paralympic world rankings, including a world cadet champion (Bruna Takahashi, in 2015), a top-six world ranked player (Hugo Calderano) and a runner up (Catia Oliveira, 2018 ITTF World Para Championships class 1-2 silver).

Brazil also finished in an unprecedented fifth place at the World Team Championships in 2018 only being defeated by China and Germany, two global table tennis powerhouses.

Paralympic table tennis came under the management of CBTM in 2007. A year before, Brazil had won only four matches in the World Para Championships in Switzerland. Ten years later, the level was completely different, with four medals won at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

In 2017, at the CBTM General Assembly, for the first time, approval was given to full participation of athletes, referees, clubs, and coaches in decision-making, alongside the presidents of state associations.

Good Governance

CBTM was acknowledged on four occasions by Sou do Esporte for its governance practices, ranking fifth among all sports confederations in 2015, third in 2016 and 2017, before finishing second in 2018. In the last two years, CBTM has emerged winner of the award for its governance practice.

The hard work being done behind the scenes isn’t going unnoticed with Brazil making great strides in its Good Governance aspirations

Sou do Esporte is a non-profit association in Brazil that acts as a network of relationships between athletes, sports entities, public authorities, and the private sector. The objective is to promote sport while encouraging good practice and governance in Brazilian sport.

“This good governance award gives us more money. Our website is updated regularly with all our activities documented. We publish our financial statement every three months. We had one private company in Brazil, which gives awards to national sports associations with good governance. We engaged experts in governance who have been helping. Governance is a priority for me, and we promote this very well in our association. We changed our statutes to adapt to international standards and we publish most of our documents for people to see. We are transparent in our dealings. This has helped us to douse tension and make our doors open to people to ask questions. We copy the best association to improve ourselves. We emulate companies that apply the best system. We are open to learning from other sports and this has given us more credibility to discuss with sponsors.

Initially, when the idea of good governance came up, I had some problem with it six years ago – fortunately, governance in sports is very new and now I understand it better. I was reluctant to accept it. I want to be better than any other associations. The US Olympic Committee is the best when it comes to good governance. Good governance has helped us to achieve results in terms of sponsorship but 2020 was not a good year. We are hoping that 2022 will be a good year for us.

Under good governance practice, the president of the federation must be ready to lose power to make good governance work and you must open your mind to allow good governance to work. You must be ready to lose power and ready to work with experts. Operate open doors with other associations that operate good governance as this is very important.”

Knowledge has no price, and it is the most expensive, but you need people to transfer this knowledge to you. So as president, you need to humble yourself to learn from others.” Alaor Azevedo

Host major events

More investment in training, tournaments and coaches, Azevedo believes Brazil may bid to host World Championships or WTT tournaments in future but said that he hopes to vacate office when his new tenure expires in 2025 to give others the chance to run the federation.

He is particularly excited with the launching of the University of Table Tennis which he believes would help Brazil and other Latin America nations to learn more about the sport especially when it comes to good governance.

General News Alaor Azevedo