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USA Table Tennis

99-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

By Sheri Cioroslan | May 25, 2014, 5 p.m. (ET)

2014 Tokyo World Team Championships

Why Tokyo Hosted the ZEN-NOH 2014 World Team Championships

There is a story behind every World Championships that answers the question:  Why did this particular host city step forward?  In this case, it was the idea of the ITTF.

On March 11, 2011, Japan was rocked by the Great East Japan Earthquake.  ITTF President Adham Sharara immediately sent a heartfelt message of encouragement.  Shortly afterwards, the ITTF sent the JTTA a proposal, namely for Japan to consider hosting the 2014 World Championships.   Two months later, at the ITTF’s Annual General Meeting in Rotterdam, the ITTF unanimously awarded the competition to Japan.

As explained in the official program, the JTTA “carefully considered the possibility, and we concluded that although Japan faced a very difficult social and living environment in the months and years ahead, we needed to offer reassurance to those engaged in recovery and reconstruction efforts and also show the world that Japan is doing its best to move forward.” 

Takeo Obayashi, President of the Japanese Table Tennis Association, remarked, “Soon after the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, we received a tremendous amount of encouragement from our friends in the table tennis world and these Championships have been made possible by their friendship and heartfelt support.  Even now, three years on, huge numbers of people in the Tohoku region are still struggling to rebuild their lives.  I sincerely hope that by sharing the thrilling games and the passion of the players with them we will be able to lift their spirits.”

The Governor of Tokyo, Yoichi Masuzoe, added, “People in Tokyo and other parts of Japan will be given a wonderful opportunity to see thrilling matches played by the world’s top athletes.  Their performances are sure to allow spectators, including children, who are our future, as well as people in the disaster-hit areas, to feel the magnificence and savor the excitement of sport.”

The ITTF has the distinction of being the first international federation among the Summer Olympic Sports to hold a major world championships in Japan since the country was awarded the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.    The venue that will host the table tennis competition in 2020 is the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.  It served as a competition hall at this year’s World Championships and is part of the legacy of 1964 Olympic Games.

The first division matches were played at the Yoyogi 1st Gymnasium.  The organizers set up a display area there that all spectators passed which depicted photos and the story of the earthquake’s devastation. 

Indeed, as the organizers predicted, thousands of passionate Japanese spectators rocked the event with their spirited cheers.  And the table tennis family drew closer in solidarity.

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