ITTF chief executive Steve Dainton is optimistic of staging events, including the Olympic and Paralympic Games, during the coronavirus pandemic ©ITTF

International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) chief executive Steve Dainton has insisted he remains "buoyant and optimistic" for this year, despite acknowledging the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dainton has delivered a message, entitled "A Year of Hope", to table tennis fans to outline the ITTF’s "hopes and dreams" for 2021.

He admits there is "still a long way" to go in the fight against COVID-19 and does not believe the world will be moving freely until later this year.

But Dainton is adamant the ITTF remains "resolute" in the face of adversity and is determined to continue its "pathway towards professionalisation" and put on events in 2021.

The first of the ITTF’s plans set out by Dainton in his message was to ensure the table tennis competitions at this year’s rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games are a "huge success".

Dainton said the ITTF would do its "utmost" to assist the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 to stage the Games this year.

He said he was also proud to see World Table Tennis - the ITTF’s commercial arm - come to life in 2021 and was confident of delivering "what we have discussed and promised for so long, albeit in a different way than planned".

"It is of course a significant challenge in a complicated external environment but at the same time it’s exciting to finally launch," said Dainton.

The ITTF ended its eight-month competition hiatus in 2020 with the Women's World Cup in November ©Getty Images
The ITTF ended its eight-month competition hiatus in 2020 with the Women's World Cup in November ©Getty Images

The third pledge made by Dainton was to stage the 2021 World Team Table Tennis Championships, scheduled to be held in Houston in the United States after the ITTF made the "heart-breaking" decision to cancel the 2020 edition in Busan in South Korea.

Dainton also vowed to "look for new and innovative ways" to deliver high performance and development programmes and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ping Pong Diplomacy milestone, which helped to foster positive relations between China and the United States.

"The work doesn’t stop and while we give everything to get as many events and activities back up and running, we must still navigate the challenges of the pandemic and be flexible as some plans change on a weekly and even daily basis," said Dainton.

"Even though many things are still out of our control, due to COVID-19 restrictions and despite a difficult 2020, we remain buoyant and optimistic about 2021 and what we can achieve.

"We hope to be in a position soon which will allow us to continue our growth strategy as we clearly were able to achieve prior to the pandemic.

"Many thanks to the entire table tennis community for your patience and we look forward to once again discussing table tennis face-to-face all around the world."