The International Table Tennis Federation said today that there is “unprecedented” interest in hosting its reformatted World Table Tennis Championships Finals in 2021 and 2022, after the interest phase of its bid process closed at the end of last month.
The World Championships are being expanded from 2021 to comprise a series of continental and intercontinental stages, all leading to the World Table Tennis Championships Finals, which will include the best of the best from the previous stages.
The concept, which aims to “ensure maximum participation of ITTF member national associations,” was approved at this year’s board of directors meeting in Halmstad, Sweden.
The ITTF said that a total of 13 countries have expressed interest in hosting the two editions of the finals.
Australia, Chile, Germany, Morocco, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Tunisia and USA have expressed interest in hosting the 2021 edition. Chile, Germany, Morocco, Puerto Rico and Tunisia also expressed interest in the 2022 edition, together with China, Japan, Portugal, Romania and Spain.
A world championships held in Africa, the Americas or Oceania would be only the second to be held outside the sport’s Asian and European heartlands, after the 1939 edition which was held in Cairo, Egypt in 1939.
Steve Dainton, the ITTF’s chief executive, said: “When we went through the study of the World Championships it was the fact that it was harder and harder to find hosts that was one of the key reasons to encourage the change. I do not think any of us could ever imagine 13 countries showing official interest, but with the change we can all be proud that it shows we can take the biggest table tennis event on earth to all corners of the globe. Eight official expressions of interest were from countries that have never hosted before. It once again proves that changes to the structure, rather than rules, needs to be our focus in the next years – it’s really unbelievable.”
Interested cities have until 31 December to submit their bids, and the ITTF will select the hosts at its AGM in Budapest, Hungary in April next year.