World Table Tennis heads to Saudi Arabia for Grand Smash event

Featured image credit: World Table Tennis

Saudi Arabia will host a professional table tennis event for the first time in May after plans were announced for a top-tier Grand Smash tournament in Jeddah.

The event will take place from May 4-11 at the King Abdullah Sports City. World Table Tennis (WTT), the commercial arm of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), made the announcement earlier today (Thursday).

The Saudi Smash will feature a prize fund of $2m (£1.6m/€1.9m), the largest ever seen at an officially sanctioned table tennis event. The men’s and women’s singles champions will each receive $65,000.

Table tennis becomes the latest sport to head to Saudi Arabia, which has pursued a major events drive as part of Vision 2030, its ongoing social and economic transformation and attempt to diversify its economy away from a reliance on the oil sector.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Saudi Arabia had agreed a 10-year deal to host snooker’s ‘fourth major’. The event will feature a prize pot of over £2m, which will make it the second richest event on the World Snooker Tour schedule, behind the World Championship.

Saudi Arabia has hosted Formula 1 races, boxing events and other sports in recent years, and it is set to be awarded hosting rights for the 2034 FIFA World Cup. Last week, plans were announced for a ‘6 Kings Slam’ tennis tournament in Riyadh.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, Minister of Sport and president of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said: “By introducing Saudi Smash, we add a further new international event to our growing list of major championships, that we are honoured to host in Saudi Arabia.

“More events simply means more opportunities to inspire and engage our young people by giving them the chance to witness the best of the best live in action. I am confident all table tennis players, officials and fans will enjoy a truly world-class experience, which will undoubtedly grow the game to new heights in the Kingdom for years to come.”

Steve Dainton, WTT chief executive, added: “We are thrilled to host the first-ever Saudi Smash in Jeddah. Grand Smashes are WTT’s most prestigious events, and represent a significant milestone for table tennis in Saudi Arabia.

“We are excited to showcase the talent and excitement of our stars, and Jeddah’s dynamic energy and passion for sports make it an ideal host city.”

Up to four WTT Grand Smashes are held each year, with the events representing the highest tier within the WTT tournament structure. Saudi Arabia joins Singapore as a host of an event in 2024.

As well as the Saudi Smash, Riyadh will host the WTT Youth Contender Riyadh from September 23-26. It will be the first WTT Youth Series event to be held in Saudi Arabia.