International Table Tennis Federation strengthens links with Dubai

The launch of a new type of table tennis was one of the highlights from the ITTF Executive Committee meeting in Dubai this month, writes John Murray

With its elite facilities, state-of-the-art venues and rich sporting heritage, Dubai has been the perfect host for world-class sporting events for many years. Being ideally located between East and West, the city is also becoming an increasingly popular destination for major meetings and conferences for International Sports Federations.

Following the International Hockey Federation Congress last November and the 11th Dubai International Sports Conference at the end of 2016, which featured some major announcements from FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Dubai welcomed the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Executive Committee at the offices of Falcon and Associates earlier this month.

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ITTF President Thomas Weikert speaks at the Executive Committee Meeting

Dubai has a strong association with table tennis, having begun sponsoring the Chinese table tennis team in 2013 and previously hosted the ITTF World Tour Grand Final and World Team Cup, and this looks set to continue with the launch of the sport’s newest format.

TTX is table tennis that can be played anytime, any place, anywhere. With a simple scoring system and some fun additions (for example, there are no rules for how to serve), TTX is aimed at attracting younger players to the sport, with the idea that you can pick up your bat and play wherever you want – be it in the mall or on the beach. There are even heavier balls to counter the wind for games played outside.

ITTF President Thomas Weikert believes Dubai could be the perfect home for TTX.

“Dubai is a beautiful city, and will be a perfect location to hold TTX events, the new anywhere, anytime form of table tennis,” he said. “We haven’t done something like this in Dubai, and I say we should because it’s an ideal place. It has great beaches and good weather during the winter months and there are tourists and residents from all over the world, so it’s a great chance to attract young people.”

His Excellency Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, agreed that the city has many suitable locations for hosting TTX. “We can do it along Jumeirah Beach Residence The Walk, under the Burj Khalifa or in the mall,” he said.

The first official TTX event will take place alongside the World Table Tennis Championships in Dusseldorf, Germany, this summer.