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Speed and quick reactions constitute the two main characteristics athletes in Table Tennis have. Every game consists of five sets. The first athlete or team that scores 11 points wins the set.

Table Tennis at the Paralympic Games presents only minor differences compared to the corresponding game in the Olympic Games. Only a fewttenis01.jpg (9112 bytes) modifications have been made for athletes who use a wheelchair. Participants are athletes with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries and athletes with an amputation or other locomotor disabilities. The athletes compete in a wheelchair or standing and are classified in 10 classes based on their functional ability.

Table Tennis at the 2004 Paralympic Games

Table Tennis at the Paralympic Games in Athens will be held at the Galatsi Olympic Hall. The competition programme will be completed within nine days, from 18 to 27 September 2004, with a one-day intermission on September 22.



Table Tennis games are conducted according to the rules and regulations of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) and the Table Tennis Committee of the International Paralympic Committee.


Rainer Schmidt (left) and Daniel Arnold of Germany in action during their Table Tennis doubles match against Mattias Karlsson and Johnny Eriksson of Sweden during the 2000 Paralympic Games. © Scott Barbour/AllsportAthletes are classified into 10 classes, depending on the skills required for the sport and the locomotor disabilities they face. Classification takes place after examining the range of movement of each athlete, his or her muscle strength, locomotor restrictions, balance in the wheelchair and the ability to handle the racket.

In classes 1 to 5, athletes with tetraplegia or paraplegia compete in a wheelchair. Athletes who choose to compete in a wheelchair can also be classified in classes 1 to 5. Athletes with the biggest difficulties in body movement and the upper limbs (usually athletes with tetraplegia) are classified into class 1. As one rises in class, eg. to 4 and 5, one finds athletes who, although using a wheelchair, present greater mobility abilities. In cases where the athletes cannot hold the racket, they are allowed to tie it to their hands.

In classes 6 to 10, athletes compete in standing position. Athletes with a combination of disabilities such as locomotor disorders in the hand with which the athlete plays, as well as in the lower limbs which limit one's balance are classified into class 6. Higher up the list of classes, the athletes present greater mobility potential. For example, in class 10 are athletes with an amputation of the free hand (the hand which does not hold the racket).

For every class of men and women players there are single and double matches. In the doubles it is possible to unite the classes. The combinations of classes for women are the following: class 1 and 2, class 4 and 5 and classes 6 to 10. For men it is possible to combine classes 1 and 2.

The Game

The objective of the game is for the player to cross the ball into the opponent's area, without him or her being able to successfully return it. The game begins with a service and there is a change in service every two points. A player or a team wins a point when the opponent:

does not make a valid service,

fails to return the ball correctly,

hits the ball twice with the racket,

obstructs the ball,

hits the ball and it passes over the competition table and the end line without touching the table at all,

hits the ball but it touches the net,

moves the table,

touches the table with his or her free hand,

if the opponent does not observe the specified order of the game (this applies in the case of doubles).

Olivier Chateigner (left) and Gilles de la Bourdonnay of France celebrate victory after their Table Tennis doubles match against Dezsoe Bereczki and Zsolt Bereczki of Hungary during the 2000 Paralympic Games. © Scott Barbour/AllsportEvery game consists of 5, 7 or 9 sets depending on the event, and the winner is the athlete who will win 3, 4 or 5 sets respectively. The player or team which first wins 11 points wins the set. In the case of a tie (10-10), the winner is the athlete or pair which will first score a 2-point difference. Opponents change sides at the beginning of every set. 

Modifications to the regulations have only been made for those classes competing with a wheelchair.

Among the most important changes are the following:

The competition area for athletes competing standing up is 14   metres long and 7   metres wide. The dimensions of the competition area are smaller for athletes competing with a wheelchair. Specifically, it is 8 metres long and 7 metres wide.

The table has the same dimensions. The table legs, however, must be at least 40 centimetres in from the end lines, so that the players are not obstructed.

At the intermission the players must leave the racket on the table, unless it is tied to their hand.

The player is not allowed to touch the ground with his or her legs or with the wheelchair footrest.

Toshihiko Oka of Japan in action in his Table Tennis singles match against Yen-Hung Lin of Chinese Taipei during the 2000 Paralympic Games. © Scott Barbour/Allsport

In the service during the single events, a repeat (let) is granted when the ball
a) goes out of play outside the side lines of the opponent's competition surface after one or two bounces
b) bounces on the opponent's competition side and returns to the net,
c) stops on the opponent's side. In the case where the opponent hits the ball back before it goes beyond the side lines or before it bounces two times on his side of the competition area, the service is considered valid.

In the service during the double events, a repeat (let) is given when the ball bounces in the opponent's competition area and then returns to the net, stopping on the side of the opponent. In the case that the opponent returns or hits the ball before it bounces twice on his side of the competition area, the service is considered valid.

While the ball is in play the player can touch the surface of the table with his or her free hand, but without moving it, in the case that he or she is trying to restore his or her balance after hitting the ball. He or she is not allowed, though, to support himself or herself on the competition surface and hit the ball.

The referee must be informed before the game as to the limitations of the players in classes 1 and 2 so he or she may judge the validity of a service.

In doubles the restriction does not apply concerning the alternating return of the ball by the members of the doubles team.

Also see: International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Navigation SeparatorInternational Paralympic Committee (IPC) Navigation SeparatorInternational Table Tennis Committee for the disabled Navigation Separator



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Copyright (c) 2000 - 2003: Edvard Bogataj

Posodobljeno: 20-11-03.