The International Table Tennis Federation has signed a collaboration agreement with the T2 Asia-Pacific Table Tennis League (T2 APAC) in a move that is set to see innovative new elements from the latter competition introduced into the ITTF’s World Tour.
The agreement was unveiled today (Thursday) during the World Tour Grand Finals in Astana, Kazakhstan. T2 APAC’s inaugural season got underway in Hong Kong in July. The tournament is officially recognised by the ITTF and has already got strong ties to the world governing body through founder and chairman, Frank Ji.
Ji is also chairman of Chinese shipping company Seamaster, title sponsor of the World Tour, while he was appointed as a special advisor to ITTF president, Thomas Weikert, in October.
The new collaboration will involve the World Tour incorporating certain elements from T2, such as using multiple balls during matches, increased player promotion, player contracts and broadcast innovations.
The ITTF said the highlight of the new partnership will see T2 become the federation’s competition laboratory, whereby the ITTF will be able to test new innovations such as ball tracking spin and speed, as well as the challenge system where players can challenge an umpire’s decision.
Ji said: “My goal is to create an environment where our table tennis players are adored and loved by millions across the world and not just by table tennis fans. An environment that would attract more media attention, more TV broadcasters, more fans and more money into the sport. I want table tennis to be one of the biggest sports in the world, and have our players become rich and famous! This is why I created the T2 league and sponsored the ITTF World Tour.
“I see many synergies between the two properties, which is why this collaboration makes sense, so ITTF and T2 can work more closely together and achieve my goal of table tennis being a flourishing commercial sport.”
Weikert added: “We are very happy to have people like Frank Ji in our sport, we need more passion, more ideas and more energy. With Mr Frank Ji on board, we have been able to innovate and develop the 2017 ITTF World Tour, which resulted in record prize money, record TV viewership and record TV interest. 2018 is an important year for the ITTF, so we are looking forward to the collaboration, which will assist the ITTF to take the ITTF World Tour to new heights.”
The first event of the 2018 World Tour will be the Hungarian Open commencing on January 18.