A four-year strategic calendar has been announced by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) and its commercial entity World Table Tennis (WTT), which will help deliver better planning opportunities for the sport, it is claimed.
The calendar establishes designated weeks scheduled for ITTF and WTT events.
The ITTF and WTT believe establishing host periods for events will provide a long-term structure to the calendar, delivering consistent stories during seasons.
•The calendar is expected to help players and national associations plan their seasons
The organisations say member associations will benefit from greater clarity, while players can plan their annual schedule.
“The 2022-2025 table tennis strategic calendar is one of our most anticipated projects,” said Steve Dainton, ITTF group chief executive.
“I’m extremely proud to unveil it today; this ambitious roadmap calendar will make table tennis stronger and more attractive.
“When we were preparing the ITTF strategic plan in 2018, we did a survey, and 86 per cent of the respondents indicated it was essential to have an international events calendar that is easily understood and provides a compelling narrative for the sport.
“Despite all the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, we started working on the strategic calendar in 2020 in full partnership with our member associations, Local Organising Committees, commercial and media partners and fans.
“Now it is ready, we are confident that we are better prepared to achieve our common goal of further developing table tennis.
“We will be releasing the first part of the 2022 calendar very soon and will release more parts of the year as events are confirmed.
“However, even though we are more hopeful that the world will now start to return to normalcy, based on our last 18 months experience, we need to understand that flexibility will be required as things can change very fast.”
A total of 34 events will form part of the WTT Series, with four Grand Smashes planned during the season.
The Grand Smashes will be the most important events on the calendar and carry the largest prize pools.
The weeks beginning March 7 and March 14 have been set aside for the opening Grand Smash event of the 2022 season.
The second Grand Smash is planned to take place in the weeks beginning April 25 and May 2.
Another window has been placed in the calendar for the third Grand Smash in July, with the final event held at the end of September and start of October.
The season-ending WTT Cup Finals will be held in November.
The women’s event is set to take place from November 21, with the men’s following from November 28.
The calendar includes the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals, which are scheduled in May and June of each year.
A WTT Youth Event and the ITTF World Youth Championships will be the first and last events of the year, respectively.
The ITTF and WTT say this reinforces their commitment to its “Day One to World Number One playing pathway”.
A minimum of nine weeks has been designated for the table tennis family to schedule events within the annual calendar.