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Olympic Games Table Tennis Events

What table tennis events are included in the Olympic Games and how do players qualify?
Find out here...

Olympic Games table tennis events

The Olympic Games table tennis events first started in 1988 - in Seoul, South Korea.

But did you know that in 2008, the table tennis events were changed?

The doubles events were replaced with team events and were a great success.

And in 2012, the maximum number of players per National Olympic Committee (NOC) who could take part in the singles events was reduced from three to two.

The total number of players is also set at 86 men and 86 women.

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Olympic Games table tennis events

Well, the table tennis competition currently consists of four events:

  • Men's Singles
  • Women's Singles
  • Men's Teams
  • Women's Teams

The team events replaced the doubles events in 2008.

The maximum number of players who can take part in the Olympic Games table tennis events are 86 men and 86 women - with not more than three men and three women from each National Olympic Committee (NOC).

Additionally, in 2012, the maximum number of players per NOC who could take part in the singles events was reduced from three to two.


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Do all the best players take part?

The rules specify that each NOC can only have a maximum of three men and three women competing in the table tennis events.

Therefore some of the stronger nations like China have players who, despite being in the top 10 of the World Ranking list, cannot take part in the Olympic Games.

However, this means that the rivalry between the different nationalities is more intense, and provides excellent matches.


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Which players do qualify?

There's a complicated system of qualification for the Olympic Games table tennis events, but without getting too bogged down with the full details, here's a brief summary...

Singles Events

For each of the singles events a maximum of 64 players, with not more than two players from the same NOC, can qualify.

64 players will qualify for the main draw in the Olympic Games as follows:

  • The top 22 players on the ITTF World Ranking list - with a maximum of two players per NOC

  • 40 players who qualify via continental qualification events - with a maximum of two players per NOC (Africa 6, Asia 11, Europe 11, Latin America 6, North America 3 and Oceania 3)

  • One player by invitation of the IOC/ANOC/ITTF (unless no suitable nominations - in which case this place will be reallocated to the next eligible player on the ITTF World Ranking list)

  • One player from the host nation (unless already qualified via World ranking list or via their continental qualification event - in which case this place will be reallocated to the next eligible player on the ITTF World Ranking list)

 

Team Events

For the team events, 16 teams qualify for the Olympic Games table tennis as follows:

  • Six continental teams - one each from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and Oceania

  • One host nation team (unless qualified via the continental quota - in which case this place will be added to the remaining selected teams)

  • Nine remaining selected teams - initially based on players who have qualified for the singles event (This will be increased to ten teams if the host nation team is not required)

Each team will consist of three players and they must all be from the same NOC.

Each NOC is restricted to one team - but that team can include a player who is not playing in the singles event.


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Competition formats

The format for the Olympic Games table tennis events are as follows...

Singles Events

Olympic Games table tennis events - Ma Lin

The singles events follow the traditional knockout format and all matches are the best of seven games.

The top 16 seeded players automatically advance to the third round, whilst the players seeded 17-32 start in the second round.

All other players start in the first round to earn the right to compete against the top 32 players.

 

Team Events

In the team events there are a maximum of 16 teams.

Teams consist of three players each. Each team match is called a "contest" and will be the best of three out of five matches.

A contest consists of two singles, followed by one doubles, followed, if necessary, by one or two more singles until one team wins three matches.

A team may play with only two players if the third player is injured, ill or disqualified - however, they forfeit the two matches which were due to be played by that third player.

If both teams only have two players, the contest will be the best of two out of three matches. The order of play will be a singles match, followed by a doubles match, followed, if necessary by a final singles match.

 

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MORE PAGES ABOUT
TABLE TENNIS AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES
For more information about table tennis at the Olympic Games, take a look at my other articles...

Olympic Games

2004 Olympic Games - Athens, Greece

2008 Olympic Games - Beijing, China

2012 Olympic Games - London, England

2016 Olympic Games - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

 

 

Other Major Tournaments

World Championships

 

ITTF World Tour

 

World Cup

 

European Championships

 

Commonwealth Games

 

 

 

See Who Performed Best

World Rankings

 

Table Tennis Events Calendars

 

Table Tennis Officials


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