Kind of sport
The International Olympic Committee recognized table tennis as an Olympic sport in 1977, but it took until 1988 before it was admitted into the Games. In Seoul, all of the medals were equally divided between China (two) and South Korea (two).
Table tennis is a very fast reaction game which is played on a special table by two players (singles) or four players (doubles). It is played by men and women. The dimensions of the table are 274 by 152.5 cm. The net is 15.2 cm high and it divides the table into two playing halves. The players are not allowed to wear white or lightly colored clothes. They play with paddles which are covered with rubber. The ball is made of celluloid or something similar to it. After every fifth point the service goes to the opponent. With a 20-20 score, the service changes every point. The winner of the game is the player who gets 21 points first. It is necessary to have a two point difference in order to win. The ball has to hit the playing half of the server before crossing the net and bouncing on the half of the opponent. The ball has to be returned immediately. It is not allowed to 'volley', i. e., the ball may not be hit before it has hit the table, and the ball can only hit his/her opponent's half once. There are various ways of holding a paddle.
With its forehand and backhand strokes, table tennis is a dazzling game . Very many games are played with effect (top spin and back spin), whereas drop shots and smashes are also exchanged at a dazzling tempo. The alternating of attack and defense, the extensive variety of strokes and the speed and agility of the players make table tennis a captivating spectator's sport and an asset to the Olympic Games.