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19 Jul 2021

Dainton to lead all ITTF entities as group chief executive

The International Table Tennis Federation has today promoted Steve Dainton to group chief executive, meaning he will now be responsible for leading all three entities under the governing body’s umbrella.

The organisation said Dainton was promoted “in recognition of his leadership and strategic vision for the sport".

As well as continuing to head up the federation, he will be tasked with leading World Table Tennis (WTT), the body’s commercial and event business, and the ITTF Foundation, its corporate social responsibility arm.

Dainton’s promotion is effective immediately.

The Australian has been in charge of the ITTF since being named chief executive in 2017.

During his tenure, he has worked with the executive committee and wider ITTF workforce to develop the first-ever ITTF Strategic Plan, which was approved at the governing body’s 2018 annual general meeting.

He has also been credited with playing an important role in increasing the federation’s commercial revenue, notably with the establishment of the ITTF Membership Relations department which has helped double investment into the sport globally.

However, Dainton’s most significant achievement in his four years in charge was the remodelling of the ITTF’s commercial rights which led to the launch of the WTT arm this year.

WTT struck a 15-year strategic partnership with IMG, the international sports marketing agency, last year to distribute its global broadcast rights.

Dainton’s tenure has also been highlighted by the expansion of the ITTF World Championships, which will see the 2021 edition being held in Houston in the USA, the first time the event has been played outside Europe or Asia since 1939.
Dainton has also navigated the ITTF through the turbulent Covid-19 period over the past 18 months.

The federation said “swift financial management decisions during the height of the pandemic were taken to ensure the ITTF remains economically stable in case events and activities were not possible in 2020".

The ITTF was able to stage a series of events in China last year which enabled the governing body to announce better financial results that some other international federations.

Dainton said on Monday: “After three years of initial growth based around our first-ever strategic plan and then managing throughout the crisis, the past 18 months has been hugely exciting and quite often positively challenging. 

“Our sport has so much potential and on the global level can continue post-Covid-19 to grow exponentially. It is especially important that we continue to find ways to increase the prize money for our players, which has been the main drive of our commercial approach.

“I wholeheartedly believe we are still only just scratching the surface and with a united approach our sport can be truly one of the biggest in the world.”
Petra Sörling, ITTF executive vice-president of finance, added: “The new contract and title signify the full support Dainton has from the ITTF Executive Committee, reflecting our satisfaction with his achievements and vision for the sport over the last four years.”

Meanwhile, Budapest in Hungary will stage the first-ever WTT Series event in Europe next month.

WTT Contender Budapest will take place at the Budapest Olympic Hall from 15 to 20 August.

It will mark the return of WTT action as it will be the first event to be staged since the WTT Middle East Hub in Doha in March.

A total prize pot of $75,000 will be on offer at WTT Contender Budapest, with men’s and women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles competitions to be contested.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the event will be held behind closed doors.

Stephen Duckitt, WTT event strategy director, said Hungary was selected as the location for its first WTT Series event in Europe due to its “strong table tennis history.”

More global WTT events are to be announced in due course.