2018 World Veteran Championships On Track to be Biggest and Best Yet

By Richard Finn | Jan. 30, 2018, 9:39 p.m. (ET)

2018 World Veteran Championships

Everything in Las Vegas is big!

Big jackpots. Big bets. Big headline stars. Big glitzy resorts.

So it is only appropriate that the biggest table tennis tournament in the world, and the world's largest veteran sporting event, the World Veterans Championships (WVC) is to be played at the massive Las Vegas Convention Center June 18-24.

The 19th edition of the tournament played every two years is expected to attract a record five thousand players from more than 80 countries. The entry deadline is March 15 and is open to anybody anyone age 40 or over as of Dec. 31, 2018.

There are 11 age event divisions beginning with 40 and over all the way to 90 and over. There is singles and doubles in each division.

Since its introduction in 1982 in Gothenburg, Sweden with 450 competitors from 21 countries, the WVC has steadily grown. In 2016 in Alcante/Eische Spain there were 4,602 players from 82 counties. The last time that the event was held in the U.S was in Baltimore in 1990.

Hosting such a event is a huge undertaking and a huge step forward in elevating the United States as a major player in table tennis worldwide according to David Sakai, co-managing partner of the organizing team.

“ I believe that winning the bid to host the WVC 2018 the largest tournament in the world says that USA Table Tennis has finally arrived internationally,” the 71-year-old Sakai wrote in an email to USATT officials.

“Since then the US has held the (2016) Woman's World Cup and is preparing to bid on the World Championships to be held in San Jose CA.  USA table Tennis has come a long way in such a short time. Unbelievable!!!,” Sakai wrote.

“Preparations are being handled around the clock by Gordon Kaye and the USATT. The WVC committee, Dan Seemiller, and myself are confident that this will be the greatest event ever,” wrote Sakai.

Current entries for the event sit at 4,028 which a month and a half still remaining. This includes an impressive contingent from the following countries:

- China: 318
- England: 131
- France: 154
- Germany: 489
- India: 235
- Sweden: 128
- USA: 510

Some of Sakai’s fondest memories through his Hall of Fame playing career have come at the WVC.

“The last memory of WVC 2016 in Spain was having the entire playing hall filled with 10,000 players and spectators combined,” wrote Sakai.  

Sakai hopes to create some more memories this year. He will be playing singles and doubles with partner Dell Sweeris in the 70-74 age division.

“There is almost nothing in this world that I would rather be part of then WVC 2018 Las Vegas.  I have played my entire life and this is the ultimate event for 40 and over players,” he wrote.  “A start of a tradition for some, a reunion for many and a celebration of life for all players.

“Be there or forever be sorry.”