August 7, 2018

A full house enjoying the spectacle of the 2018 Australian Open. (Photo: APAC Sport Media)

The recently held Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum Australian Open is being touted as a success. ITTF CEO Steve Dainton was full of praise for the tournament when he spoke with ITTF-Oceania this week about the World Tour event which was held in in Geelong from the 24-29 July.

“As an Australian, seeing an event of this level staged within the region is remarkable to see. And from ITTF’s perspective it is fantastic to see the growth of table tennis within this corner of the world.” Steve Dainton, ITTF CEO

The finals were played to a sell out stadium, providing an electric atmosphere to rival some of the prevalent hotbeds of table tennis around the world. What made this feat more remarkable is that it is the first time for the Australian Open to be held in Geelong, and also the first time ITTF-Oceania has hosted the Platinum event.

While the overall event was a success, some notable absences may have stopped the event from reaching its full potential. Fans’ disappointment was palpable some of the biggest names in the sport pulled-out just days before the tournament got underway. Top billing athletes Ma Long, Fan Zhendong and Zhang Jike were all on the entries list, but their late withdrawal left the event with an unfillable hole.

“The late withdrawal of some key athletes is hard to ignore. It’s to the benefit of both parties, players and event, that this does not happen. As the World Tour grows we are looking to give back to the athletes; it’s our responsibility to look after the players and see that they benefit from the growth of our sport. Of course this has to be a two-way street. The presence of key players lends commercial value to events as we endeavour to improve the ITTF World Tour, particularly in less established markets such as Australia. Last minute withdrawals such as this can have a damaging influence on the future integrity of events and their commercial value.” Steve Dainton, ITTF CEO

With the event scheduled to be held in Geelong for the next two years, the Australian Open is off to a strong start, and certainly will be looking to improve on this year’s event over the coming years as the sport grows Down Under.