When Dionne Warwick hit the charts in 1968 with “Do you know the way to San Jose,” she put the city into popular culture. Nearly 50 years later, organizers are hoping international table tennis finds its way to San Jose.
The city is bidding on the 2020 World Team Table Tennis Championships, and if it gets the event, it will become only the second city outside of Asia and Europe to host the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Championships, which alternate between individual and team events annually. (And if you want to know who that first city was, you have to go all the way back to 1939, when the event was staged in Cairo, Egypt.)
According to an article in Inside The Games, Ekaterinburg, Russia and Busan, South Korea, have also expressed interest in the 2020 championships. The ITTF confirmed the three cities had met an initial deadline to enter the running to host the event. All will need to submit a detailed bid by February 1. An ITTF panel will visit cities as well. Finalists will be named by the ITTF’s executive committee by February 15, with a final decision being made at the ITTF General Meeting in Sweden on May 1.
San Jose is actually a hotbed of table tennis, having produced some of the United States’ best competitors, including 2012 and ‘16 Olympians Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, Kanak Jha and Jiaqi Zheng. The sport plays out in clubs such as Topspin, Silicon Valley Table Tennis Club, 123 Ping Pong and a host of others. The strong club presence will work in San Jose’s favor at the bidding table.
“We are thrilled that the ITTF chose San Jose as a finalist,” Anne Cribbs, chairwoman of USA Table Tennis told the San Jose Mercury News. “This event has never come to the U.S. Silicon Valley. Given the number of table tennis Olympians, it’s a perfect place.”
And if San Jose gets the event, expect it to provide an enormous amount of publicity; the 2018 ITTF Team World Cup is coming up in Britain and is expected to attract an international audience of 500 million people. It is widely viewed as a chance to increase the popularity of the sport in Britain.