Table tennis investor Ji to advise ITTF on commercial growth
Frank Ji, the man responsible for helping to bankroll table tennis over the past year, has been appointed as a special adviser to the president of the ITTF, the sport's international governing body.
Ji (pictured right) will advise Thomas Weikert (left) on commercial and business matters.
Ji is chairman of Chinese shipping company Seamaster, which at the turn of the year became title sponsor of the season-long World Tour in a four-year agreement that the ITTF described as a "strategic partnership", not just a sponsorship deal.
Seamaster put its name to the season-ending 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Doha and the 2016 ITTF Women's World Cup in USA, while Ji financed the T2 Asia-Pacific Table Tennis League, a new competition launched this year offering $1.5 million in prize money.
On his new position, Ji said: “Together with my company Seamaster, I would try my utmost to contribute on the development of table tennis and make our sport more energetic and exciting to draw more younger generation into the game. I am happy to work with the ITTF who are capable enough to create a better environment for table tennis.
“I hope Seamaster could strengthen the collaborations with the ITTF in different aspects, including with T2 in a more commercial way.”
Weikert added: “Frank is a business visionary, and I could not think of a better person to be advising me on how to develop ITTF’s commercial and business interests in his new position. I look forward to our relationship flourishing more and together taking table tennis to new heights.”
The ITTF president is set to hold his first official meeting with Ji to discuss ways to develop the commercial aspects of table tennis during the Seamaster 2017 World Tour Grand Finals in Astana, Kazakhstan between 14 and 17 December.
The ITTF now sells its commercial rights in-house, following a decision at the end of last year to end a 13-year partnership with TMS International.
Lagardère Sports, the sports arm of the France-based media giant, has this year been selling media rights to all ITTF events, excluding China, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan, hot spots for the sport where the federation sells the rights directly.