World Table Tennis Championship of 2023 will be hosted in Durban in South Africa. Image Credit: Supplied photo

Dubai: Durban in South Africa made history when it was chosen to host the 2023 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals after Member Associations voted for it during the 2020 ITTF AGM held on Monday (September 28).

This is a historic first time that the ITTF’s most prestigious event is being held in South Africa and the first time on the African continent since Cairo played host to the competition way back in 1939.

The vote vindicates the new format for the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals, coming into place in 2021, which sees continental qualification precede the Finals event, thus making it more feasible for more countries to host.

Durban won 90 votes to ward off competition from the other candidate city, Düsseldorf in Germany, who won 39 votes during the AGM. Düsseldorf had been bidding to stage the event again following the resounding success of the 2017 edition.

ITTF President Thomas Weikert was unable to travel to Doha, having come in close contact with a COVID-19 positive patient last week and therefore needed to quarantine until he received the all clear only on Sunday.

“Congratulations to both South Africa and Germany on presenting very strong bids to host the 2023 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals. We are continuing to see benefits from the forthcoming changes to the format of the World Championships Finals, which will be introduced from next year onwards, leading to more countries bidding from different regions of the world,” ITTF Deputy President Al Mohannadi said.

This also reflects the ever-increasing international appeal of table tennis, which is extremely pleasing to see as we continue to work hard to make the sport more global in the future,” he added.

There was a special report on the impact of COVID-19 on global table tennis, as the sport prepares for a return to action via the #RESTART series that gets under way from November.

The #RESTART will feature three of the most prestigious ITTF events, namely the 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup, 2020 ITTF Men’s World Cup and the 2020 ITTF Finals. All three events will be held in China with the Women’s World Cup from November 8-10 followed by the men’s event from November 13-15 and the ITTF Finals from November 19-22.

ITTF Deputy President Al Mohannadi, ITTF Executive Vice President of Finance Petra Sörling, ITTF CEO Steve Dainton, ITTF General Secretary Raul Calin, ITTF Chief Financial Officer Michael Brown and ITTF Member Relations Director Mounir Bessah spoke from Doha delivering messages across a number of key topics during the course of the AGM.