How is the excitement building as the countdown is about to end?
Steve Dainton: We are very excited, the whole table tennis family! We have not enjoyed a World Team Championships for four years and are eager to watch amazing action with new young players coming to challenge some of the old guard.
Players too. They will have a chance to represent their country, which brings extra motivation and pride. This is the spirit of the team event. In Chengdu as well. Organisers are ramping up their communications efforts towards the local population and announced a number of spectators will be allowed to watch the event. After their difficult circumstances in the past weeks this is really encouraging.
We all cannot wait for the first match on Friday 30 September.
Do you already see this event as a success considering the number of challenges it faced?
SD: The road to Chengdu was indeed bumpy or a roller coaster ride as I like to refer to it as. In the year’s first quarter, the Omicron wave made us need to postpone to the current dates. Later, we saw several sports events planned in China being cancelled or postponed to 2023. Obviously we were also looking for contingencies if finally we could not make it, but I think deep down in our hearts we also knew the popularity and history that our sport has in China gave us always a strong sense of hope we would find a way.
I want to thank the Chinese Table Tennis Association and of course especially our friend Liu Guoliang, the Local Organising Committee, and the City of Chengdu for making this event happen. I also want to thank the Member Associations and participants for their patience, understanding, support and extra efforts they are making to even be there this time.
Together, we are delivering one of the most – if not the most – complex and important table tennis events in ITTF history. Preparations for the 2022 ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships Finals are a tour de force. The preparation and logistics of this event are like no other: we chartered flights, negotiated for participants to enter and leave Chengdu without quarantine, and designed a closed-loop management system similar to the one used during the Beijing Olympics. We are now getting to the final stages before departing and there is still a mammoth work to be done. We will keep up the hard work until the two champions receive their cups on the last days.
You mentioned the Beijing Olympics. The 2022 ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships Finals is the only other event hosted in China this year. What do you think of this?
SD: The entire table tennis family should feel incredibly proud about this. We are the only sport having a competition in China this year. Moreover, there will be two major World Table Tennis events in Macao and Xinxiang in October.
I cannot stress enough how significant this is. For one month, we are honoured to bring the world to China, and we hope table tennis becomes the bridge connecting people again. The power of Table Tennis, the little white ball, once again will light up the world and show that we can unite people.
Follow all the actions online with the hashtag #ITTFWorlds2022 and on World Table Tennis website!