Curiously enough, Budapest’s Hungexpo, which stages the International Table Tennis World Championships that start today, has previously been hosting an exhibition of home-making with the tagline - "From planning to implementation".
As it presides over the 55th edition of a competition that gives every sign of being unforgettable, the International Tennis Table Federation (ITTF) is engaged in its own home-making quest - albeit still in the planning stage - as it seeks a major re-location after 15 years in the Olympic epicentre of Lausanne.
ITTF marketing manager, Matt Pound, told insidethegames: "We are running a project at the moment to find a home for table tennis. We intend to establish the ITTF in a permanent HQ which will also have its own high performance centre and support framework.
"We want to provide things like schooling and dormitories for some of the most talented juniors from all over the world. We would also be looking to form partnerships with schools and universities in the area, And we plan to have some of the best coaches there.
"It’s a project we’ve been working on for the last six weeks. It’s still in its early stages, but we have already had a significant level of interest from countries all over the world. One of the key ideas is to make sure that talented players reach their full potential, wherever they happen to have been born.
"We don’t think that China necessarily has all the most talented young players in the world. We believe there are players in other parts of the world who could benefit, players who don’t have the training facilities and pathways that the Chinese have. Because China doesn’t waste its talent.
"Of course Chinese players would be just as welcome as those from anywhere else in the world. Even if they didn’t send their very top players, they could still send their fourth, fifth or sixth best. We would still be talking about great talents.
"We’ve had expressions of interest from all across the world, and we could be making decisions within the next four to five months."
Just over a year ago the ITTF devolved part of its base at Lausanne to Shanghai, where it re-established its own Museum in an all-singing, all-dancing new building.
ITTF President Thomas Weikert announced at the opening ceremony: "China has made great contributions to our sport, hence we decided to move our ITTF Museum from Lausanne to Shanghai, where we believe it will bring more opportunities and benefits in showcasing our sport."
Earlier this year the ITTF, which moved from its London headquaters to Switzerland in 2003, shifted its Asia-Pacific office to Singapore, raising hopes there that there might be an even more significant hosting later this year.
As new locational possibilities begin to be debated, Pound explained: "It’s quite a significant step for the sport to be taking. We have been in Lausanne for the last 15 years, partly to show the International Olympic Committee (IOC) we are dedicated to the Olympics.
"But we are becoming less and less dependent on IOC funding.
"We have just reviewed our financial situation. For the year of 2018, we had a turnover of $20 million (£15.5 million/€18 million) - that’s 10 times more at least than we were making 10 years ago
"It comes down to increased commercial revenue. In the past we were really quite dependent on IOC funding, but that is now down to 10-13 per cent of our income.
"We are confident we can step away from Lausanne and stand on our own two feet."
That said, the possibility of a new home in their old locale is not absolutely out of the question - Lausanne can bid to host the new incarnation just like any other city in the world.
What strengthens the ITTF's confidence, however, is the knowledge that - in large part because of the emergence of hugely talented young Japanese players in the last couple of years - next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo are going to be a massive deal for the sport.
"Tokyo 2020 is going to be a huge event for the game, we believe," said Pound. "We also believe it will be a huge boost for our commercial partners."
The next week in Hungary - where the biennial individual World Championships are due to finish next Sunday (April 28) is going to prove a strong pointer to what might occur at those Olympics.
"It will be a very good guide to Tokyo 2020 as most of the players who will competing will be in Japan next year,” Pound added. "It should give a very clear indication of where everyone stands for the Olympics.
"There will be over 140 countries showing the event in Budapest live on television. The Chinese national broadcaster will be showing 50 live hours of play.
"As far as ticket sales go, with a week to go before the Championships start, the last four days are nearly all sold and the first four days have less than 50 per cent of tickets remaining.”
So what are the pointers?
Well, in one sense, nothing has changed. China leads the overall world medals table with 140 golds and 395 medals in total. In men’s singles, China has provided both finalists in nine of the last 10 biennial World Championships. In women’s singles, China has won gold and silver on the last 12 occasions.
China won four of the five titles on offer at the 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf – only missing out on the mixed doubles.
Chinese Table Tennis Association President Liu Guoliang told China’s official state news agency Xinhua this week: "We aim to win both gold medals in men's and women's singles and the latter has more favourable chance as our women players are the top four in world rankings and have stable performance."
For his part, Pound commented: "China are going to be the favourites for all five titles. But there are a lot of challengers coming through from other countries."
Excitingly from the Tokyo 2020 point of view, some of the keenest young challengers are from Japan.
At 15, Tomokazu Harimoto has already achieved more in his career than most could dream of.
In August 2017 he became the youngest ever winner of an ITTF World Tour men’s singles title, taking the Czech Open title aged 14 years and 61 days. As if to point up the prodigious nature of his success, the man he beat in the final was Germany’s then 36-year-old warhorse, the multiple Olympic, world and European medallist Timo Boll.
In December of last year, even more extraordinarily, he became the youngest player to win he ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, aged 15 years and 172 days, requiring just five games to beat China’s Lin Gaoyuan, a World Championships and Asian Games team gold medallist, in Incheon.
Harimoto was born as Zhang Zhihe at Senda, the capital city of Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture, to Chinese parents; that is, to former Chinese professional table tennis playing parents. His father, Lin, represented China at the 43rd version of the ITTF World Championships at Tiannjin in 1995.
So the table tennis genes, in a young man who began playing aged two, are Chinese. But Zhang Zhihe became a naturalised citizen of Japan in 2014, changing his name in the process, and in 2016 he joined the Japanese Olympic Committee’s Elite Academy.
He soon became the youngest winner of the World Junior Championships, aged 13 years and 163 days. He was on the fastest of fast tracks…
"Harimoto is super-hot at the moment," said Pound. "He is just 15 and there is a huge level of interest in him a year ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games. He is like a shining light in the sport - it’s crazy what an impact he is making on it."
Meanwhile two other Japanese teenagers are making a similar impact on the women’s game - 19-year-old Miu Hirano and 18-year-old Mima Ito.
They made a joint impression on the world game in March 2014 when, as 13-year-olds, they won became the youngest-ever winners of a doubles competition on the ITTF World Tour, taking the German Open title. In December of the same year the pair won the doubles at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals.
Hirano won her first ITTF World Tour singles title in 2016, and later that year became the youngest women’s World Cup winner and the first non-Chinese women’s champion when she took full advantage of the absence of Chinese players ahead of Rio 2016, defeating Ito along the way.
In 2017, Hirano beat fellow Japanese player Kasumi Ishikawa - who will be her country’s top-ranked player going into today’s Championships - in the national final. Hirano then won the Asian Championships, beating China’s world ranked one and two players Ding Ning and Zhu Yuling en route.
Hirano rounded off 2017 by earning the first women’s singles medal for Japan at the World Championships since 1969 as she took bronze, beaten by Ding Ning in the semi-final.
Ito’s is a record of similar precocity. In March 2015 she won her first World Tour singles title, having beaten three Chinese players en route to the final. A year later, aged 15, she earned an Olympic team bronze at Rio 2016, winning the last, vital game against world fourth-ranked Feng Tianwei of Singapore.
In November last year, Ito beat three Chinese players ranking higher than her - Rio 2016 champion Ding Ning, Liu Shiwen and Zhu Yuling - to take the Swedish Open title.
With the 26-year-old Ishikawa also geared for Budapest – she is world-ranked six behind five Chinese headed by Ding Ning – Japan’s world prospects, in both the men’s and women’s events, are heady with possibility.
"It’s not something I would expect to see again in my lifetime, players coming through to make their mark at age 13, 14," said Pound. "Especially in a sport like table tennis, where the top players tend to need time to develop their technique and the physical power required to play the game. To have players at that level so young is really phenomenal.
"Harimoto and the female Japanese players can’t walk down the streets any more without being stopped for autographs and selfies. They already have superstar status. The focus of interest on them is intense - particularly with Tokyo 2020 coming up.
"When I was in Tokyo Iast month, coming out of the main Shinjuku station, and I saw Kasumi Ishikawa’s face on a huge billboard. She’s all over the city as the face of YouTube there. It shows the level of interest in the sport.
"The young Japanese players are sorted out with professional coaches and signed up with big agencies such as IMG or Dentsu. They are everywhere, advertising cereal on TV, all that kind of thing. Things are really building before the Games..
"The information we have coming out of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee is that table tennis is one of the most keenly anticipated sports in the entire Games behind the marathon, and of course baseball.
"Given the new wave of young Japanese players, Tokyo 2020 represents perfect timing for us as a sport."
It’s great timing too for the world game that the latest World Championshps will feature another rising young talent in Brazil’s 22-year-old Hugo Calderano. Like Harimoto, he made his mark in last December’s 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals by beating China’s world number one Fan Zhendong - a year his junior - before losing to the 15-year-old Japanese in the semi-final, despite holding five match points.
"There are a lot of players in Brazil, but to have someone coming through like this is very much against the stereotype of Asian and European success," Pound said. "Calderano really is a dangerous player at the World Championships and the top seeds will be very nervous of him.
"Fan Zhendong has lost to only one or two foreign players in his career. So for him to lose to an up and coming young Brazilian sent a huge shock through the game."
The last time any non-Chinese player appeared in the men’s singles final at the World Championships was 2003 in Paris, when Austria’s Werner Schlager beat South Korea's Joo Se-hyuk in the final. Since then, only five non-Chinese players have won a bronze medal - and one of them is Boll, now 38.
Last year Boll returned, albeit briefly, to the world number one position, and he goes into Budapest ranked fifth, one place behind Harimoto, with China’s Fan Zhendong, Xu Xin and Lin Gaoyuan occupying the top three places respectively. Which doesn’t mean another German flourish is impossible, especially with another of their former world number ones, Dmitry Ovtcharov, in the draw.
"Timo can still beat anyone at the Championship on his day," Pound said of the player he likens to Roger Federer. "He has such a wealth of experience to call upon, he cannot be ruled out.
"Ovtacharov is also a huge talent. Since he made world number one he has struggled with injuries over the last six months, but he looks like he is on the way back up now."
The draw in Budapest has teed up Boll for a possible quarter-final meeting with Harimoto. Meanwhile, the defending champion, China’s London 2012 and Rio 2016 champion Ma Long, now world-ranked 11, is set for a semi-final meeting against Fan Zhendong, whom he defeated in the last World Championship final in Düsseldorf.
For all the heady Japanese narratives, there is a similarly compelling Chinese story due to work itself out in Budapest as Fan, who made his breakthrough at world level aged 16, is ready at the age of 21 to convert his world ranking into gold. He is the favourite.