Creating a new legacy does not mean forgetting the past. We will continue with our current mission and look to extend the spirit of Ping Pong Diplomacy, gender equity and sustainability to all our programmes and projects.
Here are our 2021 highlights:
Dream Building Fund
Despite challenges posed by Covid-19, all five Dream Building Fund projects of 2020 have restarted. Our project leaders in India, Ghana, Peru, Tonga and Colombia have shown out-of-box creativity in dealing with the uncertainties while supporting their community through table tennis. In the meantime, our seven projects from 2019 have also been going through a rollercoaster ride with various Covid-19 restrictions but managed to continue their mission to use table tennis for solidarity.
Early in May, we announced the extension of our partnership with The Foundation for Global Sports Development (GSD). The third edition of Dream Building Fund has now been named as Dream Building Fund powered by GSD. During the call for 2022 projects, we have received over 130 applications, out of which six projects were chosen and we look forward to accompanying them in bringing the positive social change their communities need.
With the support of the Emergency Relief Fund and The Qatar Table Tennis Association, three Afghan athletes competed at WTT Star Contender Doha and the Asian Table Tennis Championships despite the political turmoil in the country.
We witnessed the power of unity and solidarity through table tennis on World Table Tennis Day (WTTD) on April 6th. It was the second WTTD held during Covid-19 and thanks to the support of the ITTF Group and the global table tennis community, the event has gained momentum. With #FEMpowerment being the centre message, 47 Promoters worldwide – out of these 70 % were female – have organised a total of 314 events and home celebrations across 98 countries and territories. The online stream has seen a total reach of 381,898 table tennis fans, while the #FEMpowerment campaign has brought 614 female athletes to join a club.
After a long-dormant spell due to the pandemic, Tables 4 ALL has brought us back to the field with its first test course in Côte d’Ivoire. Together with our partner Ping sans Frontières, eight tables were built during the course and have been donated to local schools to break down barriers to access table tennis and equipment.
In early 2021 we joined the EU-funded project INTERACT. Our knowledge in using table tennis for development will help the project in its quest to make sport and physical activity accessible for all. We are happy to share that the INTERACT website is now live, and we cannot wait to see what the project will bring to the sports world.
The second edition of ITTF Parkinson’s World Table Tennis Championships (PWTTC) took place between September 9th-11th in Berlin, Germany. Postponed for over a year due to Covid-19, the tournament was a global celebration of life and saw 135 Parkinson’s fighters from 21 countries pursuing medals and companionship in our favourite sport.
Since its launch in June 2019, the #TableTennisUnited Fund has supported 109 initiatives worldwide. With the generous donation of 57 donors and the ITTF Group, a total of 406,428 USD (and counting!) was raised, allowing us to stay close to those in need where the pandemic seems to have taken its toll.
We have also joined the SPIRIT project. Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, the project sees the ITTF Foundation leveraging its knowledge and experience in developing a framework for humane, inclusive, and empowering training that nurtures mental well-being.
Ping Pong Diplomacy
50 years after the original event in 1971 and 1972, the ITTF Group has declared 2021 and 2022 the biennial of Ping Pong Diplomacy. Aiming at building bridges, creating dialogue to bring #PeaceOnTheTable, the Ping Pong Diplomacy Task Force has been established to promote peace on the states and the grassroots level.
A new legacy was created in Houston, USA, this November as China and the USA joined forces at the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships Finals in Mixed Doubles. At the Peace Through Sport Dinner Celebrating leading to the World Table Tennis Championships Finals, five ITTF Member Associations, namely USA, China, Republic of Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPR Korea), and Japan received Ping Pong Diplomacy Recognition for their remarkable contribution towards peace-making through table tennis in the past 50 years.
Also, during the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships Finals, the #PingPongDiplomacy 50th Anniversary Auction received in total 300 bids for 16 items. Thank you all for those who took part in helping us put #PeaceOnTheTable. The 15,125 USD raised will support table tennis activities that contribute to peace among nations and individuals. Sign up for the ITTF Foundation newsletter and stay tuned on how we use the fund.
Some other awesome things we have done
In October, we became the second entity among the ITTF Group to join around 600 other international organisations in signing the Brighton Declaration! Taking the next step on FEMpowerment and gender equity, we now also embrace the gender-inclusive language across all communication channels, and we encourage all ITTF Group, Member Associations, and our partners to do the same.
The #TableTennisUnited Fund won Bronze in Sports Business Awards 2021 in the category of Best Covid-19 Response by a Sport, and also shortlisted in the Sports Diversity Award. In addition to the bronze, the 2021 WTTD celebration video was also shortlisted for the Most Successful Sports Event Broadcast category, as well as for Sport & Society – Sport Values Education and Culture in the Sport Movies & TV 2021 – 39th Milano International FICTS Fest.
2022 PWTTC is to be hosted in Pula, Croatia from September 29th–October 2nd, 2022. This will be the third edition of PWTTC with better-suited rules and classifications system, a result drawn from our survey of participants in Berlin. We have also started to plan for 2023 and 2024 PWTTC, thanks to those who submitted their Express of Interest, we will be in touch.
2021 marks the 50th anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy, as well as the first year of the biennial celebration. Ping Pong Diplomacy will be the theme for World Table Tennis Day 2022 and is expected to be the centre message of our major campaigns and events in 2022, including the World Table Tennis Championships Finals in Chengdu, China, in 2022.
A big thank you to our Governing Board and Board of Trustees for your trust in our work. Thank you ITTF Group and all 227 ITTF Member Associations for your support in our programmes and projects. A special thanks to the Foundation for Global Sports Development, our trust partners, sponsors and Ambassadors, we are lucky to have you on our side and we look forward to another great year with you in achieving solidarity through table tennis.