Chengdu, Houston to host World Table Tennis Championships
["china","north america"]
Chengdu has won the right to host the 2022 World Table Tennis Championships, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) announced on Monday.
The southwestern Chinese city overcame rival bids from Japan and Portugal to win the nod at the ongoing world championships in Budapest, which boast a record 609 players from 109 nations. Next year's worlds are set for Busan, South Korea.
"This is the first time that I have been involved in such a fierce bid with three very strong countries bidding to win this prestigious event," said Liu Yi, vice-president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association
"We are so happy to win and look forward to showing Chengdu to the entire world in 2022."
Meanwhile, Houston won a bid against Morocco to stage the 2021 World Championships, becoming the first U.S. city to host the event, which has not been held outside Europe or Asia since 1939.
It will be staged 50 years after the U.S.-Chinese "Ping-Pong Diplomacy" when the U.S. table tennis team at the 1971 worlds in Nagoya, Japan, was invited to visit China. They were the first American delegation in China's capital since 1949 when they made their historic visit.
Errol Resek (R), a witness and participant of "Ping-Pong Diplomacy", plays a game with Gao Jun, a former table tennis world champion in California on April 10, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

Errol Resek (R), a witness and participant of "Ping-Pong Diplomacy", plays a game with Gao Jun, a former table tennis world champion in California on April 10, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

Normalization of relations between China and the U.S. has gradually realized thanks to the "Ping-Pong Diplomacy," which set the course for U.S. President Richard Nixon's breakthrough visit to Beijing in 1972.
"I can think of no finer recognition of my grandfather's work, beginning with Ping-Pong Diplomacy, which established the relationship between our two nations during the 1970s," read a statement from Christopher Nixon Cox, the grandson of Richard Nixon.
"We're thrilled not only to be hosting the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships but also to have the chance to help commemorate that historic moment when Ping-Pong Diplomacy was born," Houston Sports Authority chief executive Janis Burke said on the ITTF website.
"In 1971, China and the U.S. came together and helped change the world."
The 2021 event will be the first edition after the showpiece format was expended to ensure maximum participation of eligible table tennis players around the world.
"The choice of U.S. opens up doors for the sport to enter an exciting, new market and confirms the very real globalization of the game - one of the key goals behind the changes to the World Championships format approved last year in Halmstad, Sweden," ITTF said in a statement.
The sentiment was echoed by ITTF CEO Steve Dainton. 
"We now have two extraordinary World Championships Finals events lined up, which will capture the imagination of players and spectators, opening up the sport to an ever-expanding market," said Dainton.
"I can't wait for the build-up to both events now, albeit for the next week we are fully focused on making the best possible sports spectacle in Budapest!"
(Cover Photo: Delegations from China and the U.S. celebrate at the ITTF's annual general meeting in Budapest. /Courtesy of ITTF Official website)