City’s grand slam event
EXCLUSIVE: Geelong secures international table tennis tournament for three years
GEELONG will serve up Australia’s top international table tennis event for the next three years, the State Government is set to announce today.
State Sports Minister and member for Lara John Eren revealed the regional centre had secured hosting rights for the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour Australian Open from 2018 to 2020.
The July 2018 event is expected to draw about 200 of the world’s top players from more than 20 countries playing for more than $400,000 in prize money, with more than 100 million broadcast viewers expected in China alone.
The event — to be held at the Geelong Arena — is the latest coup for Geelong’s bulging events calendar, Mr Eren said.
“The Australian Open of Table Tennis is a major drawcard on our enviable sporting calendar — shining the international spotlight on Geelong and attracting more visitors to our region,” he said.
“Our Aussies are in great shape ahead of the grand slam of table tennis with the likes of Wade Townsend, Melissa Tapper and their team mates. We wish them all the best come July.”
Wade Townsend, currently ranked number six in Australia, said the event would attract the best players in the world, including the Chinese players — the “rock stars” of their nation’s athletes.
“This event, it’s a platinum tour event, so basically it’s a grand slam of table tennis on the world tour,” Wade said. “To have it in Geelong, let alone Australia, is a big thing.”
“We’ll definitely get the best players in the world coming for it, because it’s got the second most prize money on tour and it will have massive world ranking opportunities, so everyone’s gonna be here.”
Wade also said Australian players were moving up in the world rankings, largely dominated by Asian and European players.
The event is expected to attract thousands of spectators to the region, providing both jobs and business benefits.
Mr Eren said the event had been secured through funding from the Regional Events Fund, which also supports the Festival of Sails, Queenscliff Music Festival and the Geelong Revival Motoring Festival.
“We’re proud to call the Australian Open of Table Tennis home — providing fans with another reason to travel to Geelong and give our local businesses and economy a real boost,” Geelong state Labor MP Christine Couzens said.
The Australian Open of Table Tennis will host two community days on July 26-27, to engage with primary school kids and people with a disability.
ADVANTAGE: Sports Minister John Eren and star Aussie table tennis player Wade Townsend in Geelong yesterday.