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Table tennis championships to be broadcast in virtual reality

By Sun Xiaochen | | Updated: 2016-12-08 16:09

Virtual reality broadcasting will be piloted during this week's International Table Tennis Federation's World Tour Grand Finals in Qatar thanks to a tie-up with Shanghai-based sports management and marketing company SECA.

The ITTF season finale, which takes place from Thursday to Sunday in Doha, features the top 16 men and women players in the world — including China's male and female Olympic champions Ma Long and Ding Ning, who qualified from the World Tour to compete for the $500,000 prize purse.

SECA is helping implement the trial in its role as ITTF's digital media partner through to 2020.

The broadcast will allow viewers who have the required equipment to pick from a variety of locations inside the venue from which to watch the matches, including the VIP seats, the umpire's table and the coach's area.

ITTF President Thomas Weikert said he expected virtual reality broadcasting to help attract more fans.

"The ITTF is very excited about this momentous step forward in the way we will broadcast events. We are sure that virtual reality will be a big hit among table tennis and sport fans and will improve the popularity of table tennis broadcasts significantly," he said.

"Due to China being such a strong market for table tennis, we are confident that SECA, which is based in China, is the best partner to move into this new frontier."

Li Sheng, founder and CEO of SECA, said a fast-paced table tennis competition is the perfect fit for virtual reality broadcasting.

"We've been committed to leveraging the power of the latest technology to present sports fans the best experience. Virtual reality is definitely the future of sports broadcasting and we believe table tennis is a great choice for initiating the revolution," he said.

If the trial in Qatar proves successful, ITTF and SECA plans to roll out virtual reality broadcasts at key ITTF events in 2017.

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