I’ve taken a few calls from members recently inquiring about any plans for what has come to be termed the fortieth Anniversary Celebration of Ping Pong Diplomacy. Let me explain that Board Chairman Peter Scudner and I had face-to-face talks with our counterparts in the Chinese Table Tennis Association, President Cai Zhenhua and Secretary Liu Fengyan, while in Moscow last May in conjunction with the World Championships. What came out of that meeting was an agreement to stage home and away events involving 1971 veteran athletes (men and women), current elite athletes (men and women), and current elite junior athletes (men and women). There was some talk about perhaps including government officials and celebrities if that opportunity became available. CTTA suggested that a USA delegation as described above travel to China in March of 2011 and then the Chinese would journey to the USA sometime in November of 2011.
Those plans were changed abruptly when the CTTA was invited by their government to participate in a high ranking official’s visit to DC in April of 2011. They asked us to participate in a Ping Pong Diplomacy exhibition at the Chinese Embassy in DC. Then abruptly, due to scheduling conflicts at high levels, the DC event was cancelled.
At the present time the CTTA has agreed to participate in planned exhibitions in Milwaukee in conjunction with our US Open this July 1-4. Coincidently, the City of Milwaukee has termed 2011 the "Summer of China" and their beautiful Art Museum has plans for a very special exhibit of Chinese Art during this time period. We are excited about this possibility as it will allow the participants of the US Open to witness the celebration / exhibition of Ping Pong Diplomacy in our US Open arena. I’m told that the delegation the CTTA had proposed for the original April event in DC was their "A-Team" of ’71 vets, and current elite players. There are also plans being worked on that include possible visits to the San Francisco area and at the Richard M. Nixon Library in Southern California following the Milwaukee event. We will post definitive plans on the website as soon as they are finalized.
We recently announced that Sean O’Neill (’88 & '92 Olympian) had assumed duties related to becoming a co-webmaster for USATT, joining long-time webmaster Roy Seguine. Both Roy and Sean are working to enhance our usatt.org site and the teamusa.org site that is maintained on the U.S. Olympic Committee’s website. In addition, I’m pleased to announce that Sean has also assumed the duties as a Media Specialist dedicated to table tennis in a program funded by the U.S. Olympic Committee. This will allow USATT to be more professional and timely in getting out press releases about our events; our Nationals Team, their results and activities; and in simply being more responsive to the ever- increasing demands from the media about table tennis.
The remainder of 2011 will be very busy. We have the World Championships this May in Rotterdam, NED, in July we have our U.S. Open from June 30 – July 4 and our U.S. Para Open from July 1-3 in Milwaukee, WI. Then in October we will compete in the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, MEX followed by the Para Pan American Games in November, also in Guadalajara, MEX. Also, 2011 will find us competing in the World Junior Championships in Bahrain in November, followed by the U.S. National Championships and Annual Assembly this coming December in Virginian Beach, VA.
Until next time….sincere best wishes to the entire USA Table Tennis family!
Michael D. Cavanaugh