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ITTF engages RigourTech for player review technology

Lee Sangsu and Jeoung Youngsik of South Korea compete against Xu Xin and Liang Jingkun of China during the men's team final at the 2019 ITTF Team World Cup (by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) will introduce a player review system for the first time at one of its events, with Chinese technology company RigourTech engaged to implement the system at the forthcoming World Tour Grand Finals.

The ITTF’s end-of-season showpiece, hosting rights to which were awarded in August, take place in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou from December 12-15.

The Table Tennis Review (TTR)  system will utilise ball tracking technology, making it possible to have a point replayed instantly and reviewed by a video match official, who will have the authority to overturn the original decision based on the evidence.

RigourTech was selected by the ITTF following a tender process in August and has already conducted three successful days of behind-the-scenes tests at the 2019 Men’s World Cup, which was held in Chengdu, China from November 29 to December 1.

The ITTF said that should full-scale implementation at the World Tour Grand Finals prove successful it will look to ensure that TTR features at more top-tier events in 2020.

Vicky Eleftheriade, ITTF competition director, said: “The ITTF is constantly seeking ways to improve and modernise the sport of table tennis and we see TTR as one way of bringing about positive change, by providing a mechanism to help settle unclear cases which might have been interpreted incorrectly by umpires or the other way around; correctly interpreted by umpires but doubtful in players’ perception.

“If we are able to reduce the human error or uncertainty, which can naturally occur in all sports, through a fair, transparent and effective system, we believe this will benefit the players, fans and officials themselves, as has been achieved in a number of sports already. In this regard, we don’t see why table tennis should be any different.”

Michael Pan, chief executive of RigourTech, added: “Table tennis poses a new challenge for us in ball tracking technology, but I believe that through the trials held at the ITTF Men’s World Cup and ITTF World Tour Grand Finals we will be able to usher in a new era for the sport.”