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Table Tennis

Table tennis was developed as an indoor version of lawn tennis after the latter became popular during the 1880s. The first use of the name “table tennis” appeared on a board and dice game by J.H. Singer of New York in 1887. The earliest evidence of an action game of tennis played on a table was a set made by David Foster and patented in England in 1890. It featured strung rackets, a cloth-covered rubber ball, a wooden fence around the perimeter of the table and large nets extending along both sides. One year later British sporting goods manufacturer John Jaques released the game Gossima which included a 30cm high net and a webbed wrapped cork ball along with drum-style rackets. Neither Foster’s nor Jaques’ games caught on, due to the ineffectiveness of the balls. The future of the game changed in 1900 when the celluloid ball was introduced. Jaques revived his game and changed the name to “ping pong”, which was derived from the sound of the ball bouncing off the sheepskin or parchment drum-style rackets.

Photo: The Canadian Press

There were hopes to have table tennis included on the Olympic program for the 1940 Games to be held in Tokyo. But once those Games were cancelled table tennis did not figure into Olympic plans for another 40 years. At the 84th IOC Session in 1981, table tennis was admitted to the Olympic program for Seoul 1988. The sport debuted with singles and doubles events for men and women. Beginning at Beijing 2008, the doubles events were replaced with team events. Table tennis has been on the Pan American Games program since 1979.

Under the current rules, the playing surface of the table is 2.74m long, 1.525m wide and stands 76cm above the floor. The top of the net stands 15.25cm above the playing surface. The ball is 40mm in diameter and weighs just 2.7 grams.


Singles - Men and Women

In the singles events, the top 16 seeded players are advanced directly into the third round (Round of 32). The remaining players compete in knock-out qualification rounds for the other 16 spots in that third round. The tournament is single elimination with the semifinal winners playing for gold and silver and the semifinal losers playing for bronze. All singles matches are best-of-seven games. A game is won by the first player scoring 11 points. If both opponents reach 10 points then the game is won by the first player to gain a lead of two points.

Team - Men and Women

Teams consist of three players each. A team match is called a contest. Each contest is best-of-five matches, consisting of four singles matches and one doubles match. Each singles and doubles match within the team competition are best-of-five games.

The team competition consists of two stages. The first stage follows a round-robin format. Teams will be divided into four groups of four. All of the teams within a group shall play against each other and earn two team points for a win, one point for a loss in a played match and zero points for a loss in an unplayed or unfinished match. The two best teams from each group will qualify for the final stage.

The final stage consists of a playoff, with the best teams from each of the four groups playing in a single-elimination semifinal format for the gold and silver medals. The second-place teams from each of the four groups and the semifinal contest losers shall play for the bronze medal in the following manner: The second-place teams from each group play each other in the first bronze medal playoff round. The winners of this round face the losers of the semifinals in the second bronze medal playoff round and the winners of this round play for the bronze medal.

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