skip to content
Table Tennis

New Tokyo 2020 Events



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

Table Tennis - Men's Singles
Image Alt Text

Table Tennis - Men's Singles

Jun Mizutani celebrates after winning the Mens Table Tennis Bronze Medal match against Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus at Rio Centro on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
Table Tennis - Men's Singles
Image Alt Text

Table Tennis - Men's Singles

Ma Long of People's Republic of China celebrates after winning his Mens Table Tennis Singles Semifinal match against Jun Mizutani of Japan at Rio Centro on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Getty Images
play
https://olympic-vh.akamaihd.net/i/Assets/MediaPlayer/Videos/Streaming/2016/08/rio/10/table-tennis-women-single/table-tennis-women-single_,0200,0400,0600,1200,1800,.mp4.csmil/master.m3u8

Table Tennis - Single Women - Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Highlights of the Table Tennis - Single Women on Day 5 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro - Pavilion 3 on August 10, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
IOC
Table Tennis
Image Alt Text

Table Tennis

Olympic Table Tennis player Ning Ding of People's Republic of China practices at Riocentro Pavilion on August 2, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Getty Images
Image Alt Text

NANJINGLELE is playing table tennis between the games

NANJINGLELE is playing table tennis between the games, Wutaishan Gymnasium, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, Aug. 23, 2014
NANJING POOL/XUE Xiaohong
Image Alt Text

Medalists of the mixed International team of Table Tennis.

Nanjing 2014 - Gold medalists China's Liu Gaoyang (3rd,L)/Fan Zhendong (3rd,R), silver medalists Japan's Kato Miyu (1st,L)/Muramatsu Yuto (2nd,L) and bronze medalists Hong Kong, China's Hung Ka Tak (1st,R)/Doo Hoi Kem during the awarding ceremony of the mixed International team gold medal match of Table Tennis at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, Aug. 23, 2014.
Xinhua
More

back to top Fr