China's Ding Ning in action during the World Table Tennis Championships in Budapest on April 23, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]
The optics of table tennis could undergo significant changes after next year's Tokyo Olympics with the introduction of new colors for paddlers' racket rubbers, International Table Tennis Federation president Thomas Weikert said on Monday.
The proposal was outlined at Monday's ITTF annual general meeting at the world championships in Budapest.
Instead of the current black and red combination, other colors can be used on one side, while the other will remain black.
"A lot of colors can be used as long as it's not a problem compared with the ball and reflection. There are still some restrictions on the colors, which will have to be approved by our equipment department," said Steve Dainton, CEO of the ITTF.
"In principle, paddles will be black plus many other colors. The proposition we passed was to do it after the Tokyo Olympics, so there will be no difference at the Games."
Weikert added the ITTF will also consider a proposal to use yellow balls after the Tokyo Games.
"The first step is to test the outcome of the yellow ball for TV and the players, so it's not yet a decision," said Weikert.
In other news from the meeting, Houston, Texas, won the bid to host the 2021 world championships and Chengdu, in southwest China's Sichuan province, will host the 2022 version.
Strong bids by the United States and Morocco ensured 2021 will mark the first time since the 1939 competition in Cairo, Egypt, that the worlds are held outside of Asia and Europe.
"We're thrilled to be hosting the 2021 world table tennis championships and to help commemorate that historic moment when pingpong diplomacy between the US and China was born," said Harris County-Houston Sports Authority CEO Janis Burke.
Chengdu beat Kitakyushu, Japan, and Lisbon, Portugal, to become the sixth Chinese city to host the tournament.
"We are so happy to win and look forward to showing Chengdu to the entire world in 2022," said Liu Yi, vice-president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association.
Meanwhile, six Chinese pairs, including the unseeded mixed doubles duo of Fan Zhendong/Ding Ning, cruised into the next round at the championships on Monday.
Fan and Ding, seeded first in the men's and women's singles respectively, joined Xu Xin/Liu Shiwen in the top 16.
Xu and Liu handed a 4-0 defeat to Luxembourg's Luka Mladenovic and 55-year-old Ni Xialian, then ousted a Czech pair in straight sets.
Fan and Ding lost the third set in their 4-1 win over Hungary's Nandor Ecseki and Dora Madarasz before blanking the top-seeded Hong Kong pair of Wong Chunting and Doo Hoi-kem 4-0 in the second round, where the third set went to 18-16.
In the opening round of the men's doubles, Ma Long/Wang Chuqin and Liang Jingkun/Lin Gaoyuan both triumphed by scores of 4-1.
Chen Meng/Zhu Yuling and Sun Yingsha/Wang Manyu reached the second round of the women's doubles with straight-set victories.