A Rising USA Bids for the Worlds

By Larry Hodges | Nov. 08, 2017, 6:35 p.m. (ET)

2020 World Team Championships USA

Three Cities Bid for 2020 ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships

By Larry Hodges

 

Here’s the ITTF article. Yes, San Jose, USA is bidding for the Worlds against Ekaterinburg (Russia), Busan (Korea Republic). USA has never run the World Championships, but we have a really good chance at winning this one. (I’m refraining from making any Russia/Trump jokes, and from hinting of the dangers of running anything in the Korean peninsula at this time. Oh wait, I just did.) Here’s a quote from the article:

 

“The bid from San Jose means that the USA is in the running to host only the second ITTF World Championships to be held outside of Asia and Europe. The first and only time that happened was in 1939 when Cairo, Egypt were hosts.  It’s positive signs for the global rise of table tennis, especially in North America, having successfully hosted the last two editions of the ITTF Women’s World Cup.”

 

And note the ITTF article from last week, ITTF Eyes North American Market. So you don’t really need any “inside info” to see that the ITTF would like to expand more into North America – and now we’ve run the last two Women’s World Cups, showing that yes, we can run these things. (Plus the World Veterans in Las Vegas next year.) The final decision on where the 2020 Worlds will be held will be made at the ITTF meetings at the 2018 World Championships in Halmstad, SWE, Apr. 29 – May 6.

 

These are changing times for table tennis in the U.S., where historically we’ve always been on the outside looking in. Even during our “heyday” of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, when our top players competed for world titles, we never ran a Worlds or anything remotely close. Here is a listing of all the major ITTF events held in North American. (I’m only including the Summer Olympics since table tennis made its debut in 1988.)

  • 1990 World Veterans Championships, Baltimore, USA (which turned into a scheduling disaster that set us back many years in bidding for major events)
  • 1992 World Doubles Cup, Las Vegas, USA (discontinued event)
  • 1995 World Team Cup, Atlanta, USA
  • 1996 Summer Olympics, Atlanta, USA
  • 2000 World Veterans Championships, Vancouver, CAN
  • 2007 World Junior Championships, Palo Alto, USA
  • 2016 Women’s World Cup, Philadelphia, USA
  • 2017 Women’s World Cup, Markham, CAN
  • 2018 World Veterans Championships, Las Vegas, USA
  • 2028 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles, USA

 

It seems to me that there have been two major things that have led me to be optimistic about the future of table tennis in the United States. First was the rise of the full-time training center. Other than a few short-time attempts, there weren’t any in the U.S. until the Maryland Table Tennis Center opened in 1992. As of 2007, there were only about eight. Now there are 93, with more opening up soon. This has led to a huge increase in level and depth of our cadet and junior players – and where before our cadets, juniors, and men and women (other than immigrants) were generally on the sidelines early in major international events, now our cadets and juniors are competitive all over the world.

 

The second thing? Running two successful World Women’s Cups in North American (2016 and 2017), the World Veterans in 2018, and now possibly the World Championships in 2020, mean that we are no longer on the outside looking in. We’re on the inside, and the ITTF and North American are now partnering to break into this huge market. And guess what? I live in this market. Yahoo!!!