Sunday, Mar 12, 2017
Dubai: Thomas Wiekert, President of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), says Dubai would be the perfect place to showcase the sport’s latest adaptation: TTX; Table Tennis that can be played ‘anytime, anyplace, anywhere.’
Using brightly colour tables that can be set up on the beach or in a mall, TTX is open to all ages and abilities and has simplified rules to attract newcomers to the sport.
It was piloted ahead of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro last summer, and will have its first event on the sidelines of the World Table Tennis Championships in Dusseldorf from May 29 to June 5.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ITTF’s executive committee meeting in Dubai this week — which precedes elections in Dusseldorf in May — Wiekert said he hoped the city would consider hosting TTX events after already supporting the ITTF by hosting mainstream events such as the World Team Cup and the World Tour Grand Final in recent years.
“As well as organising competitive events we should also try and attract new people to the sport,” said Wiekert. “We haven’t done something like this in Dubai, and I say we should because it’s an ideal place.
“It has great beaches and good weather during the winter months and there are tourists and residents from all over the world, so it’s a great chance to attract young people.
“Other sports are doing similar, and while the first goal is to have fun and attract new people, the second goal is also to make it a new discipline, but this is for the future.”
Saeed Hareb, general secretary of Dubai Sports Council, was receptive to the idea.
“We have huge facilities here and can set it up, so why not?” he said. “We can do it along Jumeirah Beach Residence The Walk, under the Burj Khalifa or in the mall.”
Hareb added that as well as staging events, Dubai was also hosting more sports conferences and meetings like this week’s ITTF executive meeting, and last November’s Federation International (FIH) Hockey congress, thanks to the city’s location, connectivity and hospitality.
Dubai had also first become involved in Table Tennis by sponsoring the Chinese Table Tennis team in 2013 in order to strengthen bilateral ties, he said.
“China is a very big market for us in tourism and other sectors and sport is an easy way to communicate.”
Wiekert denied the ITTF were introducing TTX in order to readdress dwindling participation rates. In fact, he said Table Tennis has more members than any other sport with 222 global National Olympic Committees on board, just four short of having every NOC signed up, which would be completed by May. But he said in order to reactivate and fund development programmes in every member state initiatives like TTX were needed to raise revenue.
By Ashley Hammond Staff Reporter
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