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April 13, 2020

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ITTF mulls nixing individual worlds

The International Table Tennis Federation CEO Steve Dainton revealed yesterday that the world table tennis governing body is considering scrapping individual world championships.

The move is relevant to a possible busy schedule in the future as the newly-established World Table Tennis plans to have 3 to 4 “Grand Smashes” every year.

“These events (Grand Smashes) will be equal to or larger than individual world championships. With 3 to 4 ‘Grand Smashes’ per year, we would be overstretching and confusing the calendar and market if we also have individual world championships,” Dainton wrote in his letter, called “A message of hope,” to all table tennis stakeholders.

“The 3 to 4 major events held on the international stage throughout each year will reach a larger audience and will perform much better than once every 2 years. From these events, we would also be able to define an individual world champion,” he added.

Since 2003, individual events for world championships have been held in odd years, with team events in even years.

The ITTF announced in March that the WTT will introduce a brand new event structure in 2021. There will be up to four Grand Smashes every year with a 10-day span for each tournament, featuring the top 64 men and 64 women players.

Also in the structure are the WTT Champions Series, WTT Cup Finals, the Star Contender and Contender Series.

For Dainton, “this approach would allow for a clearer line to be drawn for each of the platforms.”

“The world team championships and the Olympic Games, with the team competition as a key component, will remain under the responsibility of the federations, while the professional platform can focus on the growth of the individual events, allowing our sport to pursue the real table tennis stars in the future.”

The ITTF has decided to suspend all activities until at least the end of June due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The world team championships 2020 to be held in Busan, South Korea, have been postponed for a second time to between late September and early October.

“These are very tough times, but this also gives us an immense opportunity. This crisis places us in an unprecedented situation where we can reflect and work on all the areas that we know have been under-performing, needed to change and adapt,” said Dainton.

As the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed to 2021, the ITTF is constantly checking the 2020 and 2021 calendar to try to integrate the ITTF events and also to assess the impact on continental events, national events, national leagues and some others.


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