Houston will host the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships, the first staged outside Europe or Asia since 1939, with Chengdu, China to follow in 2022, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) announced on Monday.
Houston will become the first United States city to host the event, beating out Agadir, Morocco, for the honor. The only time the event was staged outside Europe or Asia since its 1926 inception was 80 years ago in Cairo, Egypt.
Chengdu overcame bids from Japan and Portugal to win the nod for 2022 at its ongoing world championships in Budapest, which boast a record 609 players from 109 nations. Next year's worlds are set for Busan, South Korea.
The American event will be staged 50 years after US-Chinese "ping pong diplomacy" when the US table tennis team at the 1971 worlds in Nagoya, Japan, was invited to visit China. They were the first American delegation in China's capital since 1949 when they made their historic visit.
"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," Houston Sports Authority chief executive Janis Burke said in a statement on the ITTF website.
It will be the fourth global sports event for Houston, which staged the 1999 world boxing championships, the 2015 world weightlifting championships and will host next year's BMX world cycling championships.
No American has reached the podium in the event since Dick Miles in men's singles in 1959.