Houston's team celebrate after being awarded the 2021 ITTF World Championships  ©HCHSA

The International Table Tennis Federation’s 2021 and 2022 World Championships have been awarded respectively to Houston in the United States and Chengdu in China.

The announcement follows a vote at the Federation’s Annual General Meeting in Budapest, currently hosting the 2019 World Championships.

It is the first time these World Championships - which are alternately individual or team competitions - will have been held in the United States since they began in London in 1926, and the first time they have been held outside Asia or Europe since Cairo’s staging in 1939.

With Busan, in South Korea, already due to host next year’s team version of the Championships, Houston will stage the next contest involving individuals, with Chengdu then hosting a team version.

Houston beat a rival beat from Morocco. 

"The choice of USA opens up doors for the sport to enter an exciting, new market and confirms the very real globalisation of the game - one of the key goals behind the changes to the World Championships format approved last year in Halmstad, Sweden," said an ITTF release.

The 2021 World Championships Finals will be the first edition under the expanded format to ensure maximum participation of ITTF Member National Associations worldwide.

Chengdu held off rival bids from Japan and Portugal for the 2022 World Championships.

The successive hosting by the US and China is fittingly symbolic of the "Ping Pong Diplomacy" that took place between the two nations 50 years earlier.

In 1971 an American delegation was invited to play a series of friendship matches in the People’s Republic of China as a means of overcoming the diplomatic and political gulf that then existed between the two nations.

Janis Burke, chief executive of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, commented: "We’re thrilled not only to be hosting the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships, but also to have the chance to help commemorate that historic moment when 'Ping Pong Diplomacy' was born. 

"In 1971, China and the United States came together and helped change the world."

The 2021 and 2022 ITTF World Championships in the United States and China will mark the 50th anniversary of
The 2021 and 2022 ITTF World Championships in the United States and China will mark the 50th anniversary of "Ping-Pong Diplomacy" which altered relations between the two countries ©Nixon Foundation

Liu Yi, vice-president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, said: "This is the first time that I have been involved in such a fierce bid with three very strong countries bidding to win this prestigious event. 

"We are so happy to win and look forward to showing Chengdu to the entire world in 2022.” 

Steve Dainton, the ITTF’s chief executive, commented: "I would like to thank all nations who bid to host our biggest annual event. 

"It was fantastic to see so many high-level bids from a great range of countries. 

"We noticed raised interest in hosting the World Championships Finals, due to the expansion of the competition from 2021, which adds even more value and prestige.

"The quality of the bids we received is fantastic news for table tennis globally and we now have two extraordinary World Championships Finals events lined up, which will capture the imagination of players and spectators, opening up the sport to an ever-expanding market."