Much of the discussion raging in the political corridors here in Tokyo will this time be about the format of the future world championships. It is a true clash between performance and participation. Marketing –commercial values on one side screaming for better conditions and presentations, and on the other side the solidarity development aspects pushing for what perhaps is true spirit of our sport ; solidarity and participation .
It is of course a numbers game. Free hospitality for more than 1000 people over eight days is a bit of a toughie and then to add all the other requirements , the playing facilities needed , volunteers .stricter ITTF directives , we are putting any organizer through a tremendous test of patience and financial sustainability .
Solutions are not easy to find. The much improved ITTF development work is doing what it is supposed to do – grow the sport from a participation point of view with the true meeting point being the world championships. Arguments thrown from the marketing / media side are of course related to how to make the elephant dance and how to sell the world championships concept to sponsors and commercial partners.
Let’s see what happens . The latest news is that we will have some sort of cap for the future; Maybe 84 ?! , but more likely 96 teams, allowed to enter the team championships in 2016, with some adjustments of the hospitality rule connected.
But here we are – action did start this morning and I am right now sitting in the Tokyo Gymnasium trying to overlook things. In a moment of true passion I did offer to help out with the challenge to make the action in this hall also count for the media and our fans. The truth is that we have many teams here in the second, third division with tremendous potential for future growth. I am also interested in those associations looking to make a comeback into the big stage – to play once again in the limelight, like India – like England – Italy or you name it. My North American heritage (14 years of living) also triggers the interest to see what Canada and the USA can do this time. Expectations are still low –but we need to add some spark for something to happen on that continent .
The many young players that we have seen pass through some of our athletes development programmes are also a point of huge interest. Many of them still pushing for attention – but we know them well and must allow ourselves to enjoy their progress as a true passionate fan of our sport. We are after all family – the ITTF family.