There is only a month to go until the opening of 2021 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals which will be held in Houston, Texas, set to become the first American city to host this event.
“We are delighted to bring our sport, Table Tennis, to a new continent,” said ITTF Group CEO Steve Dainton. “We are very excited to experience the unique American flavour of this World Championships, and we are looking forward to this unparalleled opportunity to grow Table Tennis further in America.”
The world’s best players will face each other from 23-29 November at George R. Brown Convention Center and world number one Fan Zhendong and Chen Meng of China are amongst the galaxy of stars at the week-long table tennis spectacle. Adopting a revamped and expanded format for the first time, the flagship event of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), will feature 128 players in singles (Men and Women) and 64 pairs in each of the doubles competitions (Men Doubles, Women Doubles, Mixed Doubles) competing in a straight knockout format.
“Houston is honoured to be the first city in the Americas to host the World Table Tennis Championships Finals,” said Harris County – Houston Sports Authority CEO Janis Burke. “The event will showcase the world’s most talented players, and we want to invite all of Houston’s culturally rich and diverse population to come out and support them in force. Even if they are just beginning to learn about the sport, we encourage everyone to experience this marquee, once in a lifetime event!”
The preparations are on-track and the competition has enjoyed strong ticket sales. As it has become the norm when delivering international sport events during the pandemic, the ITTF and the local organising committee are working together on measures to ensure health and safety and at the same time deal with the changing entry requirements.
Team USA’s Kanak Jha, who has won every national title between 2016 and 2019 for a record four straight national championships, is also ready and eager. “It’s extremely exciting and truly historic in the sport to have the World Championships played on US soil,” Jah said. “It’s something that I never could have imagined growing up, and I can’t wait to compete in front of a home crowd for the first time. I think this will be an event all table tennis players will remember and cherish in their career.”
This is the first time since 1939 the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals will take place out of Asia or Europe. This year’s championships are of even greater significance for the Table Tennis community when the 2020 event in Busan, Korea, was cancelled due to COVID-19. In 2020, the ITTF, with the support of all the Member Associations, launched the #RESTART series, successfully hosting three international competitions in a bubble format in China and recording zero cases of COVID-19. All stakeholders have since worked incredibly hard to deliver exciting and safe international table tennis events around the word. These efforts will culminate in the 2021 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals – the next milestone showcasing the best Table Tennis has to offer in a safe and secure environment.
The ITTF Annual General Meeting will also be held in Houston on 24 November 2021. The main items on the agenda include the election of the ITTF President, the election of the host of the 2024 World Table Tennis Championships Finals, and a proposition to change the service rule in doubles matches put forward by the Iran Table Tennis Federation.
Celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Ping Pong Diplomacy are also planned as part of this historic World Table Tennis Championships.