By Nick Butler

A series of changes were unveiled by the ITTF at their Board of Directors meeting ©ITTFA series of "significant decisions" on the future of the World Championships have been made by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Board of Directors in order to broaden the appeal of the event and allow more nations to challenge for medals.

After a meeting today during the World Team Championships in Tokyo, which is due to conclude on Monday (May 5), the Board permitted doubles pairs to be formed by players from different associations.

This will be showcased for the first time at the 2015 World Table Tennis Championships in Suzhou, China, and marks a change from the current format where double pairs consist of teammates from the same nation. 

The decision raises the tantalising possibility of top Chinese players teaming up with international counterparts, in a move which could allow players from a wider variety of countries to feature on the podium.

In what comes across a further attempt to reduce the Chinese monopoly on the medals table, the Board have also reduced the numbers of players per association available to play in the Championships.

For singles each association's basic quota has been reduced from five to three players, although if a country has a player ranked in the worlds top 100 they receive one additional position, and if they have a player in the top 20 they receive another.

This means the maximum number of competitors will be five, down from seven at the 2013 event, and a far higher total the two permitted for Olympic singles competition.

The host nation, so China in 2015, will also be permitted a maximum of six players.

Each association receives two entries for each of the men's, women's and mixed doubles events, and if two countries join forces to enter a mixed nation doubles pair, that pair is counted as one entry for each country.

A maximum limit of 96 teams has also been introduced for the 2016 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Kuala Lumpur, which represents a change from the current unlimited system in which 110 male and 95 female nations are participating in Tokyo.

The meeting took place during the World Team Championships in Tokyo, where China remain on course to defend their men's and women's titles ©Getty ImagesThe meeting took place during the World Team Championships in Tokyo, where China remain on course to defend their men's and women's titles ©Getty Images

"The Board of Directors in a spirit of cooperation and solidarity was able to find a good compromise to all proposals made today," said outgoing ITTF President Adham Sharara after the meeting.

"With open discussion and with the interest of our sport in mind we made some memorable decisions that will definitely enhance our World Championships in the future."

These changes follow the announcement, revealed exclusively by insidethegames, that ITTF Sharara will relinquish the Presidency in September to take up a new role as chairman.

He will be replaced by Germany's Thomas Weikert, who is currently Deputy President of the ITTF. 

Sharara's new position  will focus upon boosting the global standard of the sport and, in particular, helping other nations to challenge the supremacy of China on the world stage.

Chinese players have won the last five men's world singles titles and the last six team events as well as the last 10 female singles titles and nine of the last ten team competitions.

They also managed Olympic gold medal clean sweeps of all four events at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

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