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ITTF commits to commercial, governance and sustainability changes

Official tournament balls displayed during the ITTF-Asian Table Tennis Championships in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. (Photo by Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images)

The International Table Tennis Federation has pledged commitment to three initiatives following its executive committee meeting on October 20 and 21 in Chengdu, China.

The committee backed a plan announced earlier this year to house the federation’s commercial rights in a new vehicle, called ‘World Table Tennis’, from 2021.

The ITTF is currently examining final bids by five potential commercial partners submitted in response to a tender issued earlier this year covering its commercial rights from 2021 onwards. The federation is understood to be seeking one or two global partners to work with World Table Tennis, handling all its rights – including media, sponsorship, gaming, data, event hosting and licensing – on a global basis in a long-term deal.

It received expressions of interest from 50 companies when it started the process in January. In June, eight companies submitted formal offers, from which a shortlist of five was drawn. Final bid presentations by the five were made in Singapore at the end of July.

The ITTF is working with consultants Deloitte Sports Business Group and law firm Withers on the process. The federation selection panel examining the bids includes ITTF marketing director Matt Pound, ITTF vice president for finance Petra Sorling, ITTF president Thomas Weikert, ITTF deputy president Khalil Al-Mohannadi, and ITTF chief executive Steve Dainton.

The second initiative discussed by the executive committee this month was a review of its constitution to give continental federations a bigger role in ITTF decision-making. In a press release yesterday, the federation said it “has seen in recent years that the relationship with the Continental Federations, even with more resources provided by the ITTF than ever before, is often not ideal and the ITTF believes that this has a lot to do with the current Governance structure.”

The third initiative is to create a ‘Sustainability Working Group’ to make sure that all federation events and activities are in line with global concerns about protecting the environment. The press release said “equipment sustainability” would be a particular focus, and the working group would be led by international experts.

Announcing the initiatives, ITTF president Thomas Weikert said: “Our Executive Committee meeting was an historic one, as the ITTF approved the structure of World Table Tennis, which will bring much-needed funds into table tennis and allow us to make significant strides forward with our products. In addition, we made good progress with our governance review as well as making the decision to be much more vigilant as regards making the sport of table tennis more sustainable.”