Olympics Sports >> Table Tennis

Table Tennis


  • Men (2 events): Singles, teams
  • Women (2 events): Singles, teams


  • Singles: A line-up featuring a maximum of 86 players (3 max. per country). Depending on the number of competitors, there are 3 or 4 qualifying rounds leading to quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final. Semi-final losers play for the bronze medal.
  • Teams: Sixteen nations with a team of three players are divided into four round robin groups where the top two go through to the quarter-finals. A match is 5 games (4 singles, 1 doubles). 2 pts for a win, 1 for a defeat. Knockout phase comes into effect from quarter-finals.


19th century

Invention of table tennis.


Japanese players cause a sensation at the world championships in Bombay by using bats covered with rubber.


Japan's Satoh becomes the first Asian to win a world championship, providing a sign of what would later largely prevail in the sport.


Initially a Yugoslavian innovation, the pen-holding position is used by the Asian fraternity, notably the Chinese and the Japanese. Until then, the classical hold had been made popular by Hungary's illustrious player, Victor Barna.

April 13, 1971

The American team enters into competition against China in Peking, losing 13-0. Table tennis, however, opens the way towards diplomatic relations between the two countries.


The IOC recognises table tennis as an Olympic sport, even though the sport has never appeared as a demonstration event.


First official appearance of table tennis at the Olympic Games in Seoul.


Gyozo Viktor Barna (Hun/Gbr)

Fantastic record! 15 world titles, including 5 in singles. Between 1930 and 1935, he was beaten only once by compatriot and doubles' partner Miklos Szabados.

Deng Yaping (China)

The greatest. A tiny player at 1m52, she was the best women's player ever. Double Olympic champion in 1992 and 1996 (in singles and doubles), she also won 3 world titles in 1991, 1995 and 1997.

Jan Ove Waldner (Sweden)

The talent! Olympic singles' champion in 1992 and runner-up in 2000. The Swede was also crowned world champion in 1989 and 1997 (in singles) and is widely considered as one of the greatest players ever. He was also a gifted doubles player and excellent in team events when he wasn't winning titles on his own.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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