skip to content
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.

More
More


Gallery

play
https://olympic-vh.akamaihd.net/i/Assets/MediaPlayer/Videos/Streaming/2016/08/rio/16/table-tennis-women-team/table-tennis-women-team_,0200,0400,0600,1200,1800,.mp4.csmil/master.m3u8

Table tennis - Team Women - Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Highlights of the Table tennis - Team Women on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro - Pavilion 3 on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
IOC
Table Tennis - Men's Team
Image Alt Text

Table Tennis - Men's Team

Youngsik Jeoung and Sangsu Lee (yellow shirts) of Republic of Korea play against Jike Zhang and Xin Xu (red shirts) of People's Republic of China during the Table Tennis Men's Team Semifinal 1 on Day 10 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro - Pavilion 3 on August 15, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Tennis - Women's Singles
Image Alt Text

Tennis - Women's Singles

L-R Silver medalist Xiaoxia Li, Gold medalist Ning Ding of People's Republic of China and Bronze medalist Song I Kim of Democratic People's Republic of Korea pose during the medal ceremony for the Table Tennis Women's Singles Final on Day 5 of Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Rio Centro on August 10, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Table Tennis - Men's Team
Image Alt Text

Table Tennis - Men's Team

Maharu Yoshimura and Koki Niwa (green shirts) of Japan compete against Timo Boll and Bastian Steger (black shirts) of Germany during the Table Tennis Men's Team Semifinal 2 between Japan and Germany on Day 10 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro - Pavilion 3 on August 15, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Table Tennis - Women's Team
Image Alt Text

Table Tennis - Women's Team

Xiaona Shan and Petrissa Solja of Germany compete against Ai Fukuhara and Mima Ito of Japan during the Table Tennis Women's Team Semifinal 2 on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro - Pavilion 3 on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Tennis - Women's Singles
Image Alt Text

Tennis - Women's Singles

Song I Kim of Democratic People's Republic of Korea during Table Tennis Women's Singles Bronze Medal match against Ai Fukuhara of Japan on Day 5 of Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro on August 10, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
More

back to top Fr