The House View: Why Table Tennis is the world’s other game
May 18, 2023
If you know me well, you will know that there are three things that matter in my life. Family, Crystal Palace and Table Tennis. In that order, I promise.
So when the content team gave me the opportunity to write about a sport I am so passionate about, I jumped at the opportunity.
As we approach the end of the football season most eyes are being drawn to the Champions League Final and Play-Off Finals. However in Africa the World Table Tennis Championships will be taking place between May 20-28. The championships are being hosted on the continent since 1939.
The nine-day tournament takes place in Durban, South Africa, and will feature nations from all across the globe. In 2019, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) created World Table Tennis (WTT), is the commercial arm of the ITTF to transform table tennis by putting players and fans to the forefront and by creating great event experiences through new events and commercial platform.
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The 2021 edition of the World Championships was held in Houston, Texas, the first time that the tournament had been held in the US. The hugely successful event saw 1,328 hours of broadcast to a cumulative audience of 369 million people globally and 430 million impressions on social media.
You will not be surprised to learn that this number of eyeballs attracted premium sponsors. The tournament generated a total of $752 million in sponsorship media value. Could we see South Africa generate even more?
Table Tennis is huge. It is one of the top five participation sports worldwide, with an estimated 300 million people playing on a regular basis.
The sport has fans and followers all over the world including 141 million in India, 87 million in the US, 46 million in Japan, 22 million in Germany and 21 million in South Korea.
Over the years China has dominated the sport. It was declared the national sport in 1952 and in their time they have produced 116 World Champions, won 32 Olympic Gold Medals and 149 World Championship Medals. 337 million Chinese people have an active interest in the sport and it is their most watched sport during the Olympics.
I bet almost all of you reading this have picked up a Table Tennis bat at some point during your life whether that be in school, down your local club or in the new public tables you see in parks and shopping centres. There aren’t many sports that are as easily accessible as Table Tennis for everyone.
Having the first tournament in Africa since 1939 is a great way to start growing the sport in a continent that is ripe with opportunity.
I am looking forward to seeing how this tournament is received in a new market and how the championship can be used as a catalyst to grow the sport in this region.
All statistics provided by World Table Tennis, unless otherwise stated.
By Ray James
Photo Credit: Remy Gross