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    • 4 of The Worlds Top 6 Players Not Competing In Singles Event At The 2016 Olympic Games!

      4 of the world's top 6 players not competing in singles events at the 2016 Olympic Games! Is it fair? Who's really to blame?


      Left to right Xu Xin, Zhu Yuling, Liu Shiwen & Fan Zhendong - Photo by: IITF/ITTF Flickr!

      It's been over a week now since the names of who will compete in the men's and women's singles event at the 2016 Olympic Games have been released. Unsurprisingly, there has been a huge response to the fact that only one of the world's top three players of both genders will be able to compete. The reason for this is due to the rule set in place after China's utter dominance of the 2008 olympics where they picked up all medals available in both singles events. Of course for the good of the sport on a global stage, this level of dominance can easily be looked at as a negative. But is it really fair that players, who have worked their way up to the top of the world rankings, are left out because their nation is essentially too good?

      Winning an Olympic singles gold medal is seen, by most, as the pinnacle of what anyone can achieve in the sport of table tennis. By excluding two of the best players in both genders, Xu Xin, Fan Zhengdong, Liu Shiwen and Zhu Yuling you take away some of the shine off the achievement. This may even lead to the world championships meaning more than the Olympics in the future, due to there being less limits on who can take part. What's even more absurd is that Xu Xin who has been world number 1 on multiple occasions in the last few years may never get the chance to play in the world's premier table tennis event. He will be 30 by 2020 and you would have to think by that time, the younger, Fan Zhengdong may have surpassed him.

      Most of the blame for this issue has been put down to the Chinese selection committee and is mainly based on their men's singles selection. The problem is how can you possibly leave out a current Olympic and former two time world champion in Zhang Jike who is tried and tested in majors for Fan Zhengdong who is still very young and whose time will surely come? The main argument is that Xu Xin, who has been in much better form as of late when compared to Zhang Jike should be playing. However you could argue his record in Majors is vastly inferior to Zhang Jike's and if Zhang Jike does manage to pull off a bit of an upset in the upcoming olympics. You would be hard pressed to say that he wouldn't take over Jan Ove Waldner as the greatest player of all time. A controversial argument in itself I know, but as they say, we can cross that bridge if we come to it.

      There doesn't seem to be much of an argument against Ma Long's selection, as he's the current world champion and number one, but again surely this could easily be avoided if the world's best players were allowed to play in the world's most prestigious tournament. So does the blame really lie with the International Olympic committee and ITTF's decision to only allow two players from each nation to compete in the singles events? Or is it better for the sport giving lower level players the chance to compete whilst reducing the chances of Chinese dominance? Post your thoughts and opinions below.

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      Written by: Thomas Jeffcott
      TableTennisDaily
      Comments 7 Comments
      1. Baal's Avatar
        Baal -
        I believe the WTTC already means more than the Olympics or the World Cup for the reasons you mentioned: None of the best players are excluded from the WTTC.

        Table tennis is an individual sport. If you are #3 in the world you should be allowed to play, even if #1 and #2 are from the same country. If she was allowed in, Liu Shiwen (for example) would have a greater chance of winning a gold medal than ANY player not from China. How is this fair?

        By the way I am not Chinese, I come from the US, a country that will never win a medal in table tennis. So I am pretty unbiased about this. I just want to watch great matches between the best players.

        ITTF continues to make one stupid mistake after another in an attempt to legislate away Chinese dominance. This probably underlies a lot of changes they made regarding balls and now their experimentation with net height. They fail to realize that every change in rules probably favors the country with the largest infrastructure in the sport. More coaches, more kids plahing more analysis, more likely to find the perfect player to work in any set of rules you could imagine.
      1. JeffM's Avatar
        JeffM -
        Ittf should focus on promoting the sport table tennis as it is now, rather than continuously making changes (ball changes, and now experimeting with net height) to the sport to 'appeal to more people' (or in attempt to reduce Chinese dominance). Simple stuff, like having replays for ALL matches in tournaments, instead of a maximum of 2 tables at once will be a good start. By selectively recording matches and not recording all, they run the gamble of missing out good matches, as well as having less publicity, as some countries may only have very few players in it, and ittf may miss out their match on recording which meant the event won't be mentioned in that country's media. Next perhaps invest in getting some better video recorders for the videos, as well as a few more staff in checking / editting the recordings.
      1. UpSideDownCarl's Avatar
        UpSideDownCarl -
        Wait. I thought this was the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not the ITTF. Wasn't the choice that was put before the ITTF: 2 players or NO OLYMPICS? Didn't they do the same with sports like gymnastics as well. Only 2 gymnasts from each country for individual events? Didn't they do that also? So, it wasn't exactly about table tennis.


        Sent from Deep Space by Abacus
      1. NextLevel's Avatar
        NextLevel -
        Quote Originally Posted by UpSideDownCarl View Post
        Wait. I thought this was the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not the ITTF. Wasn't the choice that was put before the ITTF: 2 players or NO OLYMPICS? Didn't they do the same with sports like gymnastics as well. Only 2 gymnasts from each country for individual events? Didn't they do that also? So, it wasn't exactly about table tennis.


        Sent from Deep Space by Abacus
        I think it might be an ITTF-driven choice as there are events with different quotas. But what no one has explained to me is why only 3 - why not 4 or 5 or even 6 since some people are so caught up with seeing the best players at the Olympics?
      1. UpSideDownCarl's Avatar
        UpSideDownCarl -
        I could be wrong. But I thought that it was the IOC and the ITTF did not have much choice.


        Sent from Deep Space by Abacus
      1. TTFrenzy's Avatar
        TTFrenzy -
        Quote Originally Posted by UpSideDownCarl View Post
        Wait. I thought this was the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not the ITTF. Wasn't the choice that was put before the ITTF: 2 players or NO OLYMPICS? Didn't they do the same with sports like gymnastics as well. Only 2 gymnasts from each country for individual events? Didn't they do that also? So, it wasn't exactly about table tennis.


        Sent from Deep Space by Abacus
        I think the equation is/was/will be always the same. Money pool.

        Western countries have more athletic companies and also dominate the asian market, so if western countries dont earn some medals at a specific sport then companies/sponsors dont have any economic motivation to sponsor or promote specific sports. Russia and romania were also dominating the world of gymnastics for many years so it doesnt seem weird to me.

        So taking this into consideration & adding the fact that table tennis is impossible to understand and relate to as an average viewer I think TT will never be very popular in the next 20-30 years. Even in the sweden era, only specific countries were interested in TT
      1. TTFrenzy's Avatar
        TTFrenzy -
        To be more precise I will never forget my dissapointment during and after the 2002 world cup. Referees were too biased over japan china and south korea. China had such a terrible team and even with biased referees got smacked big time.

        I remember that nike adidas reebok were selling like crazy in those countries, especially in japan and south korea where the average buyer was more approachable.
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