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Four countries in running for 2023 ITTF World Championships Finals

Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen of China compete against Lee Sangsu and Jeon Jihee of South Korea (Photo by Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images)

Australia, Germany, Kuwait and South Africa have expressed an interest in hosting the International Table Tennis Federation’s (ITTF) World Championships Finals in 2023.

The ITTF announced the host candidates today (Wednesday) and pointed to the wide-ranging interest of the event, with bids coming from four different continents.

The event was this year held in the Hungarian capital of Budapest and will travel to Busan (Korea Republic) in 2020, Houston (US) in 2021 and Chengdu (China) in 2022.

The ITTF cited the potential economic impact and “huge” PR opportunities as reasons for cities wanting to host the showpiece event.

ITTF chief executive Steve Dainton said: “The range and diversity of national associations expressing an interest to stage our sport’s greatest event in 2023 is extremely exciting.

“Three of the candidates, Australia, Kuwait and South Africa, are all vying to host their first ever World Table Tennis Championships Finals, while Germany represents one of the strongest European powers. We are looking forward to seeing a highly competitive bidding process unfold.”

The expression of interest from Kuwait comes after the country’s national Olympic committee in July had its four-year suspension lifted by the International Olympic Committee. The Kuwait Olympic Committee was first suspended by the IOC in October 2015 amid concerns over undue government interference.

The 2023 World Table Tennis Championships Finals will be the third edition of the event held under the expanded format, which is designed to ensure maximum participation for ITTF member associations.

From 2021, the event will feature 128 singles players and 64 pairs in each of the doubles competitions. The tournament will operate under a straight knockout format.

The ITTF will release the requirements and other resources exclusively to the bidders by tomorrow. The four countries will have until November 30 to submit their final bids.

ITTF officials and staff will conduct evaluations and inspections between December and February, with the winning bid to be announced in March.