26 Dec 2023

Looking back on 2023, ITTF navigated a year of events that has etched itself as a special chapter in table tennis history—a year resonating with the passion, unity, and groundbreaking innovation that define the sport.

“Celebrating a year of remarkable growth and unity within our sport, 2023 stands as a testament to our collaborative efforts with Member Associations worldwide. This year showcased an incredible journey of growth, made possible through our collective dedication to sustainable development and fostering a more vibrant, inclusive, and connected table tennis community. The ITTF extends heartfelt gratitude to each Member Association for their support, collaboration, and commitment.”  — Petra Sörling, ITTF President and IOC Member

This Time for Africa

One of the highlights of the year was the return of the ITTF World Championships to Africa, after 84 years. Held in Durban, South Africa, it was a milestone in table tennis history. This event was not just a tournament; it is a testament to ITTF’s deep commitment to inclusivity and the global expansion of table tennis. Africa’s embrace of this championship resonated worldwide, celebrating the continent’s profound legacy in table tennis.

A standout moment was when Egypt’s Omar Assar becoming only the second African player to reach the quarterfinals. Assar’s victory was accompanied by a heartfelt embrace between him and Quadri Aruna, symbolising their friendship, transcending competition, and inspiring players and fans across the continent.

The Return of the World Cup

The inaugural ITTF Mixed Team World Cup during the year’s end represented a beacon of innovation and progress in the sport. Its revolutionary format symbolised gender equality and the unifying spirit of teamwork. The event’s groundbreaking approach captivated the world, showcasing inclusivity and setting a new standard for collaboration, making it an essential milestone in the sport’s evolution.

World Table Tennis

The World Table Tennis (WTT) Series had an exciting year in 2023, marking a significant journey with a growing number of events and the debut of WTT Series events in key markets like India, Germany, and Japan. The journey towards the WTT Finals was nothing short of enthralling, with each event witnessing a fierce competition that captivated fans worldwide. Not forgetting the WTT Youth Series, which emerged as a pivotal stage empowering rising stars from every corner of the globe, the stage was set for the ITTF World Youth Championships, an event that truly celebrated the talent within our sport.”

Champions of the Future

The ITTF World Youth Championships, held in November in the heart of Nova Gorica, Slovenia, marked a dynamic showcase. This monumental event celebrated the sport’s vibrant future and displayed the dedication and skill of the U15 and U19 participants, instilling confidence in the sport’s potential. Additionally, collaborative efforts extended beyond the event, culminating in impactful anti-doping education programmes for the youth, reinforcing ITTF’s commitment to clean and fair play.

Para Table Tennis

2023 marked a record-setting calendar for the Para Table Tennis Series, featuring 29 events across all Continental Federations. The exceptional performances by para-athletes displayed their remarkable skills and prowess on the table, setting new standards in the sport. Moreover, 2023 marked the completion of the first stage of qualification for the table tennis events at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games with 47 men and 32 women securing places. This signifies ITTF’s dedication to championing diversity, equity, and the future of para-table tennis on a global stage.

Champions of Past and Present

Not forgetting the ITTF World Veterans Championships. Now rebranded into the ITTF World Masters Championships, it was held against the beautiful landscapes of Muscat, Oman. Beyond mere competition, it radiated a commitment to a sport that unites, bringing together over 1,600 participants in a symphony of inclusivity and shared passion. This championship showcases table tennis as more than just a competitive arena but as a sport for all and for life. It is an integral component of the ITTF’s broader strategy of championing inclusivity, making table tennis an accessible and engaging pursuit for enthusiasts of all ages.

World Table Tennis Day’s New Date Honours Ivor Montagu

The annual celebration of World Table Tennis Day on April 23 marked a significant shift from its previous date of April 6. It was chosen to honour the birthdate of Ivor Montagu, the founder and first President of the ITTF, and underscored ITTF’s collective dedication to nurturing a sustainable future for both the sport and the planet under the theme “Think sustainably, act now.”

Table Tennis Leaps into The Future

VR Table Tennis was featured as an exhibition sport at the Olympic Esports Week in Singapore in June 2023 (Photo by Lionel Ng/Getty Images)

In a stride towards the future, VR Table Tennis successfully debuted in June during the Olympic Esports Week in Singapore. Embracing this digital transformation, ITTF has since announced an inaugural VR Table Tennis World-Title Event scheduled for 2024.

“2023 marks a significant stride in further modernising our sport,” remarked Steve Dainton, ITTF Group CEO. “It’s been a year defined by innovative leaps and the collective drive of our community towards a more dynamic table tennis landscape. Each step taken resonates with our commitment to ushering in a new era, embracing innovation while staying true to the sport’s core values. We bid farewell to 2023, a year that brought challenges following the pandemic with a renewed vision of an ever-evolving, more unified, and captivating table tennis experience ahead. Get ready for more top-level events in 2024 as well as the Olympic Games, there will be more table tennis activity than ever before.

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