The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has hailed the people and government of South Africa for hosting a historic World Championships being the second to be staged in Africa after the 1939 edition in Cairo, Egypt.
TOP MEDIA reports that specifically, the leadership of South Africa Table Tennis Board (SATTB) and the Province of KwaZulu-Natal as well as the city of Durban were singled out for welcoming the world’s best table tennis players to the colourful event held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban.
At a press conference to assess the tournament held on Friday May 26, the ITTF President Petra Sorling was particularly proud that Africa could stage such a hitch-free global; tournament having been entrusted by the Member Associations (MA) to host the championships.
“This World Championships is historic being the first time Africa will be hosting in 84 years after Egypt hosted it in 1939 in Cairo. We are so proud of SATTB, the Government of South Africa, Province of KwaZulu-Natal, and the city of Durban for hosting the world. In a historic event like this, an African Omar Assar also achieved another historic feat for reaching the quarterfinal and we believe this will inspire a new generation of players in the continent. We believe this tournament will inspire the growth of table tennis as a sport for all as sport as the power to unite and foster mutual understanding among nations.
“It is not just the celebration of the hosting of the tournament in Africa, but to spread the love of table tennis because it has the power to break barriers and the city of Durban has embraced table tennis. We must commend all those that made this event a memorable one. This tournament is an inspiration to all to spread the positivity of table tennis and create a lasting legacy that will resonate throughout the world,” she said.
For the President of SATTB Joe Carrim, the hosting of the championships has come with its challenges, but it has been overcome with the huge support from the Government of South Africa and ITTF.
“This is a short journey to the tournament, and we have done a fair job and for us it has been a journey of ensuring that we make table tennis open to the public. We also want to change the narrative of table tennis being regarded as a smaller sport. For the next two days, the tickets sold out and with what ITTF has done, it shows that table tennis is becoming a global sport which is in line with table tennis for all. I must also pay tributes to table tennis for their commitment to the sport. We hope with the staging of the world Championships, we can position table tennis as a major sport in South Africa and we want to thank ITTF for trusting with their support to host this historic event,” Carrim said.
For ITTF Group CEO Steve Dainton, the staging of the World Championships by South Africa was a worthwhile one as the change made in 2018 has started yielding fruit. “Of course, there will always be challenges faced in hosting big scale championship events. However, together with the SATTB, we have overcome them and put together a fantastic event. This tournament has been broadcast to over 150 countries, signifying just how huge and massively global a sporting event it is. We are looking forward to the World Championships being held in a different market, perhaps either South America or Oceania in the future. It will be a wonderful opportunity to spread the sport to all parts of the world – that will be the next big step for us,” he said.