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Table Tennis


Table tennis started as a genteel, after-dinner game, but is now a fast, high-tech sport. It also has the most participants of any sport in the world.

High society origins

It is thought that upper-class Victorians in England invented table tennis in the 1880s as a genteel, after-dinner alternative to lawn tennis, using whatever they could find as equipment. A line of books would often be the net, the rounded top of a champagne cork would be the ball and occasionally a cigar box lid would be a racket.

Evolution

In 1926, meetings were held in Berlin and London that led to the formation of the International Table Tennis Federation. The first World Championships were held in London in 1926, but the sport had to wait a long time before it was given its Olympic debut at the 1988 Seoul Games.

Modern changes

The sport has progressed enormously since it was first invented.  Nowadays, players use specially developed rubber-coated wooden and carbon-fibre rackets and a lightweight, hollow celluloid ball. Thanks to their high-tech rackets, they can now smash the ball at over 150 kilometres per hour!

Popular appeal

It is estimated there are 40 million competitive table tennis players and countless millions playing recreationally, making it the sport with the most participants worldwide. This is largely owing to its enormous popularity in China, which has become the dominant force in the sport.

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Gallery

Buenos Aires 2018 - Table Tennis - International Team Event
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Buenos Aires 2018 - Table Tennis - International Team Event

Miu Hirano JPN in action alongside Tomokazu Harimoto JPN against Chuqin Wang CHN and Yingsha Sun CHN in the Table Tennis Mixed International Team Gold Medal Team Match in the Table Tennis Arena, Tecnopolis Park. The Youth Olympic Games, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday 15th October 2018.
Simon Bruty for OIS/IOC
Buenos Aires 2018 - Table tennis
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Buenos Aires 2018 - Table tennis

Nathan Xu NZL in action during his Table Tennis Men's Singles Preliminary Stage game against Cristian Pletea ROU at the Table Tennis Arena, Tecnopolis Park. The Youth Olympic Games, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday 7th October 2018.
Joe Toth for OIS/IOC
Table Tennis - Men's Team
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Table Tennis - Men's Team

Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura of Japan compete during the Men's Table Tennis gold medal match against Xin Xu and Jike Zhang of People's Republic of China at Riocentro - Pavilion 3 on Day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Table Tennis - Men's Team
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Table Tennis - Men's Team

Xin Xu and Jike Zhang of People's Republic of China compete during the Men's Table Tennis gold medal match against Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura of Japan at Riocentro - Pavilion 3 on Day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Table Tennis - Men's Team
Image Alt Text

Table Tennis - Men's Team

Xin Xu and Jike Zhang of People's Republic of China compete during the Men's Table Tennis gold medal match against Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura of Japan at Riocentro - Pavilion 3 on Day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Table Tennis - Men's Team
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Table Tennis - Men's Team

Timo Boll and Bastian Steger of Germany play Youngsik Jeoung and Saehyuk Joo of Republic of Korea during the Men's Team Bronze Medal match between Korea and Germany at the Rio Centro Pavilion on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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