Chen Meng is set to headline the Women’s World Cup in Weihai as ITTF competition returns ©Getty Images

International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) chief executive Steve Dainton conceded it had "not been an easy road to get to this point" ahead of the sport’s long-awaited return to international competition tomorrow.

After eight months without international events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, China is set to stage three competitions over the next two weeks.

Weihai is due to host the Women’s World Cup from tomorrow until November 10, with the Men’s World Cup set to follow from November 13 to 15.

The 2020 ITTF Finals are then scheduled to be held from November 19 to 22 in Zhengzhou.

Supported by the Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA), the ITTF decided on a bubble approach to combat coronavirus risks on the sport's international return.

National events have already been held in China in recent months.

"It has not been an easy road to get to this point and putting these major events in one bubble has required an enormous team effort," said Dainton.

"Therefore, I say a big thank you to everyone at the ITTF who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes.

"A huge thanks goes to CTTA, led by President Liu Guoliang, and also the Local Organising Committee who have provided exceptional support in extremely complicated circumstances.

"Furthermore, thanks to the players who have sacrificed a lot to be here with us. We wish you all the very best at the upcoming events."

World number two Mino Ito will be gunning for glory at the ITTF Women's World Cup ©Getty Images
World number two Mino Ito will be gunning for glory at the ITTF Women's World Cup ©Getty Images

Starting tomorrow, the Women’s World Cup will see 21 players battle it out for top honours at the Weihai Nanhai Olympic Center.

World number one Chen Meng of China is setting her sights on the trophy that she has yet to win in her stellar career.

"I have trained here before and played the Chinese National Championships recently in Weihai too, so it’s good to be back," Chen said.

"In the last few days, I have met many other players again and even just seeing them in person has been exciting.

"I am getting myself into tournament mode now and I will be going all out to win the Women’s World Cup title."

Chen is set to face stiff competition from Japan’s Mima Ito and fellow Chinese player Sun Yingsha, who are second and third respectively in the world rankings.

Among the players to have qualified via Continental Cups include Dina Meshref of Egypt, Petrissa Solja of Germany, Adriana Díaz of Puerto Rico and Lily Zhang of the United States.

The competition will begin with preliminary groups, and the top two in each of the four groups will qualify for the round of 16, where they will meet the top eight seeds.

From there, it is a knockout tournament.

CTTA President Liu added: "This is a landmark moment for table tennis.

"After many months without international events for our athletes, fans and entire community, this is the moment that we return to the global stage.

"The majority of other sports have not managed to do this yet and these events have required considerable work and sacrifices."