International Table Tennis Federation president Adham Sharara (right) with Qatar Table Tennis Association president Khalil al-Mohannadi during a press conference.
A staggering prize fund of US$ 500,000 would be on offer for the Qatar Open Super Series table tennis tournament, to be organised by the Qatar Table Tennis Federation (QTTF) in Doha from February 18 to 23.
It’s by far the largest ever prize money event in the history of the ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) World Tour. Also for the first time, in what will be the 20th edition of the Qatar Open, the event will be held over a six-day period, instead of five days.
The 2013 edition of the event had a prize purse of US$ 212,000, with the men’s and women’s singles champions — China’s Ma Long and Ding Ning — pocketing US$ 17,000 each. For the 2014 edition, the prize fund has been increased by over 100 per cent.
“The increased prize money is in celebration of 20 years of Qatar Open. Earlier, it was a men-only event. Thanks to the vision of the QTTF, women were allowed to play in the event in 1998. In fact, table tennis is the first sport in the region to allow both men and women to play side by side.
“This is also the largest ever prize fund in the history of the ITTF World Tour (a concept that first saw the light of day in the central English market town of Kettering in 1996). I think China Open gives the next best in terms of prize money – US$350,000,” ITTF president Adam Sharara said.
In fact, the 2014 event will ensure prize money for all players who make the round of 64. Earlier, only the 32 who made the main draw were eligible for it. While the men’s and women’s singles winners will go home richer by US$5,000, the runners-up will get US$ 17,000 each, with the semi-finalists collecting US$9,000 apiece. Even the first-round losers in the main draw will get US$ 1,500 each.
“Our aim is to be counted among the top five sports federations in the world. We also want table tennis to become one of the top five sports in the world in terms of popularity. We have been initiating a lot of changes, like reducing the number of entries in team formats to 72 from the earlier 115, so that only the best get filtered in,” Sharara added.
Qatar may bid for 2019 or 2020 TT World Championship
Qatar is likely to bid for the hosting rights of table tennis’ World Championship in 2019 or 2020. This was announced by ITTF chief Adam Sharara on Monday evening.
“The slot for the 2018 Worlds has already been filled. We would strongly consider Qatar’s bid for the 2019 or 2020 Worlds, as the Qatar Table Tennis Federation has evinced its keen interest to bid for the event,” Sharara said.
With Qatar hosting the football World Cup in 2022, hosting of the TT Worlds in 2019 or 2020 would be timely, feels the ITTF chief.
“To successfully host a tournament like the World Championship just before the football World Cup would enhance Qatar’s sporting image further. They have been doing a great job by hosting the Qatar Open, which is one of six Super Series events on the ITTF World Tour, for the last 19 years. The World Championship of course would be of much bigger magnitude, but I am confident Qatar and the QTTF are capable of doing it,” Sharara added.