‘Smash’ing Saudi Smash table tennis event



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World Table Tennis event in Saudi Arabia Image: World Table Tennis

The World Table Tennis (WTT) has officially confirmed that Saudi Arabia will host a WTT Grand Smash from 2024 onwards. The Saudi Smash will take place from May 4th-11th at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and will become the first professional table tennis event to be held in the Kingdom.

‘WTT’ stated that elite players from around the world will descend upon the coastal City of Jeddah on the Red Sea to compete in an electrifying event that combines the precision and skill of the world’s best table tennis players with the dynamic and entertaining experience of a WTT Grand Smash, the highest tier within the WTT event structure.

Singapore-based the World Table Tennis, stylized as WTT, is an organization created by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) in 2019 that runs commercialized table tennis tournaments. Its inaugural tournament was held in November 2020 in Macao, China.

Lausanne (Switzerland)-based the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) is the governing body for all national table tennis associations. The role of the ITTF includes overseeing rules and regulations and seeking technological improvement for the sport of table tennis.

The 62,345-capacity King Abdullah Sports City, also nicknamed ‘The Shining Jewel’ or simply ‘The Jewel’, is a multiuse stadium and Sports City located 30 kilometers North of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The City was named after Abdullah, who was the King of Saudi Arabia when the stadium opened in 2014.

‘WTT’ further stated that under Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s ongoing social and economic transformation, the country has become a welcoming host for some of the biggest global sports events. Now table tennis, the WTT Grand Smash, follows fast in the footsteps of Formula 1, the FIFA Club World Cup™, Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Next Gen Tennis, America’s Cup Sailing Preliminary Regatta and world heavyweight boxing, having all been hosted in Jeddah recently.

The Saudi Vision 2030 is a Government program launched by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which aims to achieve the goal of increased diversification economically, socially and culturally, in line with the vision of Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman.

Said His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, Minister of Sport and President of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, “By introducing Saudi Smash, we add a further new international event to our growing list of major championships that we are honored to host in Saudi Arabia. More events simply mean more opportunities to inspire and engage our young people by giving them the chance to witness the best of the best live in action. I am confident that all the table tennis players, officials and fans will enjoy a truly world-class experience, which will undoubtedly grow the game to new heights in the Kingdom for years to come.”

Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)-based the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee are the National Olympic Committee and the National Paralympic Committee representing Saudi Arabia.

The world’s best stars will compete for a prize pool of USD2,000,000, the largest ever seen at an officially sanctioned table tennis event. The Saudi Smash, like all the WTT events, offers equal prize money, and the men’s and women’s singles champions will each walk away with a winner’s cheque of USD65,000 and will receive 2,000 ITTF Table Tennis World Rankings Points.

The Saudi Smash will take place from May 4th-11th, 2024 and consists of a 64-player Men’s and Women’s Singles main draw and 24-pair main draws for Men’s, Women’s and Mixed Doubles. From May 1st-3rd, a 64-player singles qualifying will determine the eight players who advance to the respective singles main draw competitions.

The wildcard places in each of the draws will ensure that the players and pairs from Saudi Arabia will be able to compete against the world’s best, develop their talent and thrill family and fans.

Stated Steve Dainton, WTT Chief Executive Officer (CEO), “We are thrilled to host the first-ever Saudi Smash in Jeddah. The Grand Smashes are WTT’s most prestigious events and represents a significant milestone for table tennis in Saudi Arabia. We are excited to showcase the talent and excitement of our stars, and Jeddah’s dynamic energy and passion for sports make it an ideal Host City.”

Since 2018, Saudi Arabia has staged over 100 international events for both male and female athletes including football, motorsports, tennis, equestrian, esports and golf, attended by over 2.6 million sports fans. The Kingdom is now considered one of the fastest growing countries in world sport, with sporting activity becoming an increasingly important part of the daily life, especially for the Kingdom’s 20 million people aged less than 30 years.

Maintained Dr. Abdullah Hashim Al-Bar, President, Saudi Table Tennis Federation, “The Saudi Table Tennis Federation is proud to announce that Jeddah has been chosen as the Host City for the inaugural Saudi Smash. This is a groundbreaking event that promises to elevate the sport to new heights in the Kingdom and inspire future generations of Saudi table tennis players. We are excited to be partnering with the WTT to deliver one of their marquee events and look forward to showcasing Jeddah and Saudi Arabia to the world.”

Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)-based the Saudi Table Tennis Federation is the national governing body for the sport dedicated to promoting and developing table tennis throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in line with the Kingdom’s transformative 2030 vision. The Saudi Table Tennis Federation aims to increase participation in table tennis amongst the Saudis, developing grassroots to high-performance pathways and pave the way for the Saudi talent to succeed on the global table tennis stage.

Since Vision 2030 was launched in 2015, Saudi Arabia has tripled the number of official sports federations from 32 to 97 federations. Everything from kite surfing, to boxing, from beach volleyball to padel. And as a result, sports participation in the Kingdom has also tripled with more people playing more sports than ever before as part of a fitter, healthier country, with life expectancy increasing from 74 to 78 years.

Added Dr. Al-Bar, “As a Federation, we want to both host and compete at the highest level, so we need to drive participation and hosting major events to showcase the sport is a critical aspect of our plans. We currently have 10 men’s singles and five doubles pairs in the world rankings. For some of these players to potentially play in a ‘home’ event against the world’s very best means everything to us. It’s the catalyst we need at this stage in our development. There are 3.6 million table tennis fans already in the Kingdom, of which 45 percent are female. At the youth level we’ve got good emerging talent coming through. When you consider this, and the fact that the sport is playable all year round and requires limited infrastructure, we really have all the ingredients to grow the sport and get more Saudis playing. I’ve no doubt the Saudi Smash will accelerate our journey and help our sport grow even further.”

The Saudi Smash will be a celebration of sporting excellence but also a testament to Saudi Arabia’s commitment to bringing world-class sporting events to the Kingdom and promoting healthy lifestyles for all Saudis. The event aims to inspire the next-generation of table tennis enthusiasts and contribute to the growth of the sport in the region. With up to four WTT Grand Smashes a year planned for the WTT calendar, Saudi Arabia joins Singapore as the second WTT Grand Smash host in 2024.

Remarked Liu Guoliang, WTT Board Chair, “As the WTT Board Chair I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Saudi Arabia for pioneering the Saudi Smash, a pivotal addition to the global World Table Tennis calendar. This initiative underscores the Kingdom’s dedication to advancing the sport’s reach and competitiveness. As the world eagerly anticipates the inaugural Saudi Smash, we anticipate an electrifying showcase of talent and athleticism that will resonate across continents, further propelling table tennis into a new era of prominence and excitement.”

The Grand Smashes have their own branding to celebrate and showcase their host. The Saudi Smash logo, reflecting the green of the Kingdom’s flag, depicts iconic skyline imagery from across Saudi Arabia. This logo embodies the combined desire of the WTT and the Saudi Table Tennis Federation to make the Saudi Smash an event for the entire Kingdom.

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