(By Neha Aggarwal)
The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Major Events Working Group, chaired by ITTF Executive Vice President Mr. Shi Zhihao, met in Shanghai on Tuesday 11th April to discuss strategies to have all ITTF member nations participate in the World Championships in order to give them an equal platform to fight to become World Champions and thus increase the competitiveness and the global appeal of table tennis.
The current membership of ITTF stands at 222, and with the current format of the World Championships, the ITTF has a major task to provide the same platform for all member nations to be able to compete to become the World Champions.
Thus, with this challenge in mind, the Working Group was set up to study the structure and format; the aim being to find a strategic solution. Over the course of the various meetings a 100 page draft report from Delloite, based on an intensive study and the regular meetings, had been produced, the group to reviewed the proposals.
The calendar and various competitions of the ITTF were thoroughly studied and all members now agreed that it was more important to find the right solution rather than to come to a quick conclusion. It is clear that the Working Group wants to increase the participation of all of the countries in the international events, irrespective of the global ranking.
Mr. Shi Zhihao shared, “I think it’s good that the working group came together for the last time before the World Championships in Düsseldorf. We will be giving the Board of Directors a report on our work and findings from the past year. We all came to a conclusion that we want to have a fantastic organization of our World Championships, that every ITTF member should to be able to participate in the World Championships, and that we want to give every team and its players the chance to work hard towards becoming World Champions.”
Understanding the financial implications that come from the organization of tournaments under a new format is the next important step. The group has agreed to complete a financial analysis of how the ITTF and the continents can work together to finance a larger World Championships, the format of which has not yet been decided. There are different options for a new format that will be considered thoroughly.
“We have been working hard to find a system that allows all countries and teams to participate in the World Championships. There are rumors in the table tennis community claiming the working group wants to make the World Championships smaller; these are simply false. I strongly believe that we need to find a format for the World Championships that allows athletes to play in their home country in front of home audiences engaging the media, and from there make it to a final stage,” said Tony Kiesenhofer, President of ITTF-North America
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