Dubai to host ‘last stop’ on the road to Rio

Asia’s best table tennis players will compete in UAE less than 100 days before the 2016 Olympics 

Dubai is to host one of the world’s most prestigious table tennis tournaments, considered a key indicator of form ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The ATTU Asian Cup will take place less than 100 days before the start of the Games, and as such will be the last competitive stop on the road to Rio for the majority of competitors.

The announcement was made at Dubai Week in China, during an evening in celebration of Dubai and China’s shared passion for sport, which featured the Chinese National Table Tennis Team performing in an exhibition match.

“We are delighted to confirm that the 2016 Asian Cup will be staged in the UAE,” said Tony Yue, Secretary General of the Asian Table Tennis Union. “As a sponsor of the Chinese team and host of several major table tennis events in recent years, there is a growing passion for our sport in Dubai and we look forward to taking our tournament to a city renowned for staging world-class sporting events.”

Dubai Week in China
Zhang Jike and Li Xiaoxia of the Chinese National Table Tennis Team

“It is a great honour to be awarded the rights to stage this prestigious event,” added Dawoud Al Hajri, President of the UAE Table Tennis Association. “It is particularly exciting to be welcoming the world’s best players, at the peak of their powers as they hone their game ahead of the Olympics, and I am sure sports fans in the UAE will turn out in force to cheer them on.”

Dubai Sports Council, the body charged with developing the emirate’s sporting community, also invited China’s clubs and athletes to visit and take advantage of Dubai’s world-class training facilities. “Sport is a strategic priority for Dubai as a global city of 200 nationalities that recognises the power of sport in uniting cultures,” explained HE Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of the organisation.

At the event, which took place at the Orange, Taikoo Li Sanlitun South, in Beijing, Zhang Jike, 2012 Olympic champion, Fan Zhendong, world No 4, as well as Li Xiaoxia, 2012 Olympic women’s champion, and Wu Yang, the world No 7, entertained more than 200 guests, from government officials to sports industry stakeholders and prize-winners, showcasing their skills with a series of trick shots and sharing tips with aspiring young players.

Dubai Week in China, which runs through to May 15, has transformed the high-profile venue into an interactive experience, bringing to life Dubai’s story by providing visitors the opportunity to discover the emirate through multimedia displays, performances, food stalls and question-and-answer sessions.