Busan in South Korea has been awarded the 2020 World Team Table Tennis Championships ©ITTF

Busan in South Korea has been awarded the 2020 World Team Table Tennis Championships, it was announced today.

The South Korean city landed the hosting rights after rivals San Jose in the United States and Ekaterinburg in Russia withdrew at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Halmstad.

The event in 2020 will be the first World Championships in the sport held in South Korea.

Busan's bid was backed by South Korean International Olympic Committee member Ryu Seung-min, winner of the men's singles gold medal at Athens 2004.

Both San Jose and Ekaterinburg signalled their intention to bid for future editions of the World Championships following their withdrawal.

All three cities were put forward to the vote at the meeting, taking place as part of the World Team Championships in the Swedish city.

Busan, Ekaterinburg and San Jose all expressed an interest in hosting the event before the October 15 deadline.

They were then analysed and inspected by an ITTF Selection panel before the Executive Committee cleared them to go ahead to the next stage.

The ITTF World Championships alternate between individual and team events annually.

Halmstad is hosting this year's team event, with Budapest in Hungary set to stage the 2019 individual competition.

ITTF President Thomas Weikert praised the quality of Busan's bid ©ITTF
ITTF President Thomas Weikert praised the quality of Busan's bid ©ITTF

"The entire AGM was impressed about the quality of the Busan bid," said ITTF President Thomas Weikert.

"I am certain that our Korean colleagues will do an amazing job at hosting an spectacular World Championships that will inspire millions across the world to play and enjoy table tennis. 

"We look forward to welcoming back the USA and Russia to again big for the world's biggest table tennis event soon."

A strategic plan for the next six years was also presented to the membership during the AGM.

It focuses on five strategic priorities - organisation and governance, high performance and development, international events, promotion and revenue.

Also unveiled was ITTF Foundation, which will be tasked to "evolve our award-winning development programme, with a strong focus on corporate social responsibility activities to promote solidarity through table tennis".

In his report to the membership, Weikert claimed it had been an "extraordinary" year for the sport's worldwide governing body, both on and off the table.

Weikert admitted the 2017 Presidential election, where he secured another term at the helm, was "one of the most complex in our recent history".

The German beat Belgium's former world number one Jean-Michel Saive during last year's election in Düsseldorf following a fractious and bitter campaign.

It included Judit Farago being suspended as ITTF chief executive following a breakdown in relations with Weikert.

Farago, who sought legal advice amid the row, was officially replaced by Steve Dainton in August.

The ITTF's six-year strategic plan was also presented during the AGM ©ITTF
The ITTF's six-year strategic plan was also presented during the AGM ©ITTF

Weikert issued a call for unity from the ITTF and thanked members of the Executive Committee for their "unwavering support in an incredible year".

"It is now time for all members of the table tennis family to join forces together and work in unison to grow the sport we love and to take it to new heights," he said.

"Raising the image of table tennis worldwide has always been one of my major goals but, in the background, we remain focused on the stringent implementation of the World Anti-Doping Agency Code, alongside the principles of good governance and ethics.

"I’m happy that the ITTF Code of Ethics was implemented on 1st July 2017. 

"These are topics that are vitally important for operating in a trustworthy atmosphere."

At a meeting held before the AGM, the African Table Tennis Federation adopted a new constitution which they claim will promote good governance and transparency.

The 30 delegates present agreed to the changes following "several hours" of deliberation.

"We need to work together for table tennis in the future and I hope we can move the sport forward," said Weikert.