Things are bigger in Texas. Big spaces, big cities, big stories, and big dreams. What better place to host the biggest event in our sport, the World Table Tennis Championships is coming to Houston in 2021.
The award followed a presentation to the ITTF today by the U.S. Delegation including Dragomir Cioroslan (USOC Director of International Strategies and Development), Janis Burke (Houston Sports Authority CEO), Anne Warner Cribbs (USATT Board Chair), and Lily Zhang (US Team member). The plan is to host the finals at the Toyota Arena in Houston with room for 18,000 spectators. As noted by Dragomir Ciorslan in a statement today, “ITTF is the most inclusive federation in the world, with 227 countries and territories, this event is the perfect fit for Houston which has the most culturally diverse population in America.”
The World Table Tennis Championships first began in 1926. They have been held biannually since 1957, with this individual showcase alternating with the World Team Championships (which occurs in even numbered years). There are five events: Singles (Men’s, Women’s), and Doubles (Men’s, Women’s, Mixed). The Championships have been centered in Asia and Europe with the most recent diversion to Egypt in 1939. The event has never been in the United States, and in fact, has never been in North or South America.
Sports often see an increase in popularity after major events occur in one’s home country. Table tennis saw a boost in the United States after the Atlanta Olympics, for instance. This is another opportunity to showcase table tennis in this country. An opportunity to appeal to casual fans and players alike by bringing a premier event to our shores.
Houston is big – its the largest city in American’s largest State. It has a diverse metropolitan population – one of the few in the US that are majority-minority cities where Anglos represent less than half of the population. Sports are big in Houston – it is host to professional football, baseball, basketball, and soccer teams. And our sport has had a real presence in the area as well – with locals Jimmy Butler (USATT Hall of Famer and many-time champion) and Tim Wang (many-time champion), and a history of successful clubs and players and events.
Yes, things are bigger in Texas. A place that can exude both the calm control of the American West and the aggressive boasts of the American Frontier. A combination that defines America and Americans to much of the world. In 2021, Houston will be our showcase for the table tennis world. A big city ready for big stories and dreams and a big opportunity for American table tennis. Today was the first step, but there’s a lot of work to do between now and 2021. USATT and ITTF will be looking for a lot of help from the table tennis communities across North America and Latin America to make this event a success. Let’s all think big.