International Table Tennis Federation

International Table Tennis Federation
Abbreviation ITTF
Formation 1926
Type Sports federation
Headquarters Lausanne, Switzerland
226 member associations
Thomas Weikert

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) is the governing body for all national table tennis associations.[1] The role of the ITTF includes overseeing rules and regulations and seeking technological improvement for the sport of table tennis. The ITTF is responsible for the organization of numerous international competitions, including the World Table Tennis Championships that has continued since 1926.

Founding history

The ITTF was founded in 1926 by William Henry Lawes of Wymondham, the nine founding members being Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Germany, Hungary, India, Sweden and Wales.[2] The first international tournament was held in January 1926 in Berlin while the first World Table Tennis Championships was held in December 1926 in London.

Toward the end of 2000, the ITTF instituted several rules changes aimed at making table tennis more viable as a televised spectator sport. The older 38 mm balls were officially replaced by 40 mm balls.[3] This increased the ball's air resistance and effectively slowed down the game.

On 29 February 2008, the ITTF announced several rules changes after an ITTF Executive Meeting in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China with regards to a player's eligibility to play for a new association. The new ruling is to encourage associations to develop their own players.[4]

The headquarters of the ITTF is in Lausanne, Switzerland. The previous president of the ITTF was Adham Sharara from Canada; the current president since 2014 is Thomas Weikert from Germany.


Continental Federations

The ITTF recognises six continental federations.[5] Each continental federation has a president as its top official and owns its constitution.[6] The following are recognised federations:

Continent Members Continental Federation
Africa 51 African Table Tennis Federation (ATTF)
Asia 45 Asian Table Tennis Union (ATTU)
Europe 58 European Table Tennis Union (ETTU)
Latin America 40 Latin American Table Tennis Union (ULTM)
Northern America 4 Northern American Table Tennis Union (NATTU)
Oceania 24 Oceania Table Tennis Federation (OTTF)

National Federations

There are currently 226[7] member associations within the ITTF.[5]

Organisational Structure

All member associations of the ITTF attend annual general meeting (AGM).[6] Agendas on changes of the constitution, laws of table tennis, applications for membership etc. are discussed and finalised through votes. Also, the president of ITTF, 8 executive vice-presidents, and 32 or less continental representatives are elected at an AGM, serving for a four-year term. The president, executive vice-presidents, and the chairman of the athletes' commission compose executive committee.

The executive committee, continental representatives and presidents of the six continental federations or their appointees compose the board of directors (Board). The Board manages the work of the ITTF between AGMs. Several committees, commissions, working groups or panels work under the constitution of ITTF or under the Board.

Role in diplomacy

Unlike the organisations for more popular sports, the ITTF tends to recognise teams from generally unrecognised governing bodies for disputed territory. For example, it currently recognises the Table Tennis Federation of Kosovo even though Kosovo is excluded from most other sports. It recognised the People's Republic of China in 1953 and allowed some basic diplomacy[8][9] which lead to an opening for U.S. President Richard Nixon, called "Ping Pong Diplomacy", in the early 1970s.


Player eligibility

For ITTF World Title events, a player is eligible to play for his association by registering with the ITTF. If the player chooses to play for a new association, he shall register with the ITTF, through the new association.[10]

  • The player shall not represent the new association before.
  • The player will be eligible to play for the new association after three, five, seven years after the date of registration, if the player is under the age of 15, 18, 21 respectively
  • If the player is 21 years of age or older, he will not be registered with the ITTF and not be eligible to represent a new association at World Title events.

Service and point system

The table tennis point system was reduced from a 21 to an 11-point scoring system in 2001.[3] A game shall be won by the player or pair first scoring 11 points unless both players or pairs score 10 points, when the game shall be won by the first player or pair subsequently gaining a lead of 2 points. This was intended to make games more fast-paced and exciting. The ITTF also changed the rules on service to prevent a player from hiding the ball during service,[11] in order to increase the average length of rallies and to reduce the server's advantage. Today, the game changes from time to time mainly to improve on the excitement for television viewers.

Speed glue ban

In 2007, ITTF's board of directors in Zagreb decided to implement the VOC-free glue rule at Junior events, starting from 1 January 2008, as a transitional period before the full implementation of the VOC ban on 1 September 2008.[12]

As of 1 January 2009, all speed glue was to have been banned.


Conventions: MT/WT: Men's/Women's Teams; MS/WS: Men's/Women's Singles; MD/WD: Men's/Women's Doubles; XD: Mixed Doubles [13]

Major international events
Competition name First held Held every ITTF ranking[14] Events
World Championships1926Odd-numbered yearR1B1
World Team Championships1926Even-numbered yearR1
Men's World Cup1980One yearR1B2
Summer Olympic Games1988Four yearsR1B1
World Team Cup1990Odd-numbered yearR1
Women's World Cup1996One yearR1B2
ITTF World Tour Grand Finals1996One yearR2B2
Junior events
Competition name First held Held every ITTF ranking[14] Events
ITTF Global Junior Circuit1992One yearR2B4
World Junior Championships2003One yearR1B3
ITTF Global Cadet Challenge2003One yearR2B4
Summer Youth Olympic Games2010Four yearsR1B3
Para events
Competition name First held Held every Events
Summer Paralympic Games1960Four years
ITTF Para Table Tennis World Championships1990Four years
Defunct ITTF events
Competition name First held Last held ITTF ranking[14] Events
China vs. World Challenge20042012R2

ITTF World Ranking

The ITTF maintains an official World Ranking list based on players' results in tournaments throughout the year.[15][16]

The tables below show the current ITTF World Ranking for men and women:

See also


  1. "Official ITTF website".
  2. "ITTF Archives". Archived from the original on 1 March 2011.
  3. 1 2 "ITTF Table Tennis Timeline". Archived from the original on 10 July 2009.
  4. "New Rule in Favour of the Development of Table Tennis". Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  5. 1 2 "ITTF Directory". Archived from the original on 4 September 2016.
  6. 1 2 "I T T F". ITTF. Archived from the original on 4 September 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  8. McCurry, Justin (2008-05-06). "Ping-pong diplomacy back on table as Chinese premier visits Japan". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-05-30.
  9. "ITTF Archives: 1953 Bucarest AGM Minutes". ITTF. 23 March 1953. p. 2. Archived from the original on 1 March 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2010. Only the People's Republic of China Table Tennis Association was taken at this stage, in order to regularise their playing in the Championships and attending Congress. The Meeting confirmed the Advisory Committee's action in accepting the application.
  10. "Information about the Eligibility Rule". ITTF. 13 October 2008. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011.
  11. Colin Clemett. "Rules Evolution" (PDF). ITTF. p. 9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 March 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
  12. "Official Message to Table Tennis Manufacturers And National Associations" (PDF). ITTF. 24 November 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 January 2009.
  13. "ITTF Calendar". ITTF. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
  14. 1 2 3 "Policy for Inclusion in the ITTF World Ranking" (PDF). ITTF. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 January 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  15. "ITTF World Ranking basic description" (PDF). ITTF. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 March 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  16. "Policy for inclusion in the ITTF Calendar and World Ranking in 2017" (PDF). ITTF. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 March 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  17. "ITTF / Current Ranking List - Men". ITTF. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  18. "ITTF / Current Ranking List - Women". ITTF. Retrieved 7 April 2018.

Coordinates: 46°31′56″N 6°35′44″E / 46.532134°N 6.595596°E / 46.532134; 6.595596

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