The delayed World Team Championships 2020, due to be held in South Korea at the end of February, have been cancelled – the first time since the Second World War that the Championships will not be held.

The ITTF made the decision in the light of increasing cases of coronavirus in South Korea, which had prompted the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency to announce that it would not allow major international sporting events in the next few months.

The Championships were originally scheduled to be held in the city of Busan from March 22-29 this year. Subsequent back-up dates of June 21-28 September 27 to October 4 were also postponed before the latest dates of February 28 to March 7 were set.

Describing the decision as “extremely difficult and heartbreaking”, the ITTF added in a statement: “It had been hoped that the event would be staged in February 2021, however due to the worsening situation in Korea Republic and with the pandemic still problematic in many regions of the world, today‚Äôs difficult decision was reached.

“With a 2021 calendar that now includes the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, it was not feasible to postpone for a fourth time.”

The 2021 World Table Tennis Championships – encompassing the individual events – are due to be held after the Olympics and the ITTF said details of that event would be announced in January.