Olympic Games Table Tennis Events

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

 By Martin Hughes
 Owner and Editor

Olympic Games table tennis events

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

But there have been several changes made since then.

In 2008 the doubles events were replaced with team events and they've proved to be a great success.

Then, 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.

And from Tokyo 2020, mixed doubles has been added to the programme.

The total number of players taking part 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 five events:

  • Men's Singles
  • Women's Singles
  • Men's Teams
  • Women's Teams
  • Mixed Doubles

The team events replaced the doubles events in 2008, and mixed doubles was added for Tokyo 2020.

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...

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.
    (Each NOC with a qualified Men's or Women's Team will be entitled to nominate two athletes to compete in the singles event).

  • Nine teams from a World Team qualification event.
    (Each NOC with a qualified Men's or Women's Team will be entitled to nominate two athletes to compete in the singles event).

  • One host nation team is guaranteed.

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.

2016 Men's Team Event Gold medal winners - China2016 Men's Team Event Gold medal winners - China

 

Singles Events

For each of the singles events a maximum of 70 players, with not more than two players from the same NOC, can qualify.

  • 32 players are nominated from each NOC who have one qualified team

  • 22 players qualify via continental qualification events (Africa 4, Asia 6, Europe 6, Latin America 4, North America 1 and Oceania 1)

  • 2-8 players can qualify from the Final World Singles Qualifying Tournament

  • 1-13 players can qualify from the ITTF World Ranking list

  • 1 player can be by invitation of the IOC/ANOC/ITTF

  • 2 players are guaranteed for the host nation

2016 Olympic Games Women's Singles Event Medal winners2016 Women's Singles Event Medal winners
Li Xiaoxia, Ding Ning, Kim Song I

 

Mixed Doubles Event

For the mixed doubles events, 16 teams qualify for the Olympic Games as follows:

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

  • One host nation team is guaranteed

  • Four teams from the World Tour Grand Finals 2019 with a maximum of one pair per NOC

  • Five teams from the World Tour 2020 with a maximum of one pair per NOC

Each NOC is restricted to one pair - with the athletes being part of the team quota if their NOC has qualified a team of that gender.


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Competition formats

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

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.

 

Singles Events

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 preliminary or first round to earn the right to compete against the top 32 players.

2016 Olympic Games Men's Singles Event Gold Medal winner - Ma Long2016 Olympic Games Men's Singles Event Gold Medal winner - Ma Long

 

Olympic Rings

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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

Click here to show/hide all pages about the Olympic Games

2004 Olympic Games - Athens, Greece

2008 Olympic Games - Beijing, China

2012 Olympic Games - London, England

2016 Olympic Games - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2020 Olympic Games - Tokyo, Japan

 

 

Other Major Tournaments

World Championships

Click here to show/hide all pages about the World Championships

2009 World Championships - Yokohama, Japan

2010 World Team Championships - Moscow, Russia

2011 World Championships - Rotterdam, Netherlands

2012 World Team Championships - Dortmund, Germany

2013 World Championships - Paris, France

2014 World Team Championships - Tokyo, Japan

2015 World Championships - Suzhou, China

2016 World Team Championships - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2017 World Championships - Dusseldorf, Germany

2018 World Team Championships - Halmstad, Sweden

2019 World Championships - Budapest, Hungary

 

ITTF World Tour

Click here to show/hide all pages about the ITTF World Tour

 

World Cup

Click here to show/hide all pages about the World Cup

 

European Championships

Click here to show/hide all pages about the European Championships

2008 European Championships - St Petersburg, Russia

2009 European Championships - Stuttgart, Germany

2010 European Championships - Ostrava, Czech Republic

2011 European Championships - Gdansk/Sopot, Poland

2012 European Championships - Herning, Denmark

2013 European Championships - Schwechat, Austria

2014 European Championships - Lisbon, Portugal

2015 European Championships - Russia, Ekaterinburg

2016 European Championships - Budapest, Hungary

2017 European Championships - Luxembourg, Luxembourg

2018 European Championships - Alicante, Spain

 

Commonwealth Games

Click here to show/hide all pages about the Commonwealth Games

 

Table Tennis Events Calendars

Click here to show/hide all pages about Table Tennis Events Calendars

 

Table Tennis Officials

World Rankings


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