Paralympic For Table Tennis Athletes

In the Second World War, many men, women, and civilians were injured and thus caused physical disabilities. After the war, the concept of physical education for physically disabled people was introduced and implemented.
People began to study and find new ways to minimize the inconvenience of physical disabilities. Such research, has offered new and enormous possibilities for sports to become one way to treat and rehabilitate people with disabilities.

Table tennis has been a Paralympic sport since the inception of Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960. However, for the first time during the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia, athletes with a disability were included.


Paralympic Table Tennis
Paralympic Table Tennis

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Table tennis is played in over 50 countries. In terms of the number of participating athletes, table tennis is the 4th largest Paralympic game sport behind athletics, swimming, and powerlifting. Table tennis competitions take two forms at the Paralympic Games: standing and wheelchair events (sitting). Individual and team men’s and women’s events are included in the program.


Athletes with a physical disability and athletes with an intellectual disability are eligible to compete in table tennis. 


Table tennis is played according to the rules of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). Minor modifications to the rules are made for sitting players (wheelchair users).

These modifications relate to “the service”, touching the playing surface with the free hand, the playing area, and the wheelchair. Rule modifications include the following:

• Players are permitted to call a “let” if the serve of the ball leaves the table by either of the sidelines (on one or more bounces), comes to rest on the receiver’s side of the playing service or upon bouncing on the receiver’s side of the playing service the ball returns in the direction of the net.

• When the ball is in play the player may use the playing surface to restore balance but only after a shot has been played.

• Wheelchairs must have at least two large and one small wheel. Feet are not permitted to touch the floor at any time during play.

• In team and individual events, no part of the athlete’s body may be strapped to the wheelchair as this could improve balance (this is permitted in open competition).

However, if strapping or binding is required for medical reasons, then it is permitted. • The playing area may be reduced, but shall not be less than 8 meters long and 7 meters wide. The table shall allow access for wheelchairs without obstructing the player’s legs. Standing Play: There are no modifications to the ITTF rules for standing players.


There are  11 classifications in table tennis.

Classes 1 – 5 are assigned to competitors who must sit in a wheelchair while competing.

Classes 6 – 10 are assigned to competitors who compete, and class 11 is for all athletes with an intellectual disability. Table tennis uses a functional classification system that allows athletes with different disabilities (i.e spinal paralyzed versus cerebral palsy) to compete.

The assigned classification reflects to the degree of disability (minor versus severe). Classes 1 through 10 are progressive with class 1 athletes being more severely disabled than class 10 athletes. All athletes with an intellectual disability regardless of the degree of disability, compete together in class 11.

During the classification process, each athlete is examined by a classification team that tests the athlete’s ability to perform specific movements.

Each movement has a point value, and an athlete’s inability to perform these movements due to their disability results in a loss of point.

For example, If elbow flexion has a point value of 5, an athlete who has full flexion is given a full five (5) points. An athlete who has limited flexion may be given three (3) points, and an athlete with no elbow flexion may receive zero (0) points.

After the classification process, each movement’s points are totalled, and the athlete is assigned classification or class (1 through 10) based on their total number of points.

Table Use

For Paralympic games, the table tennis table and net dimensions are the same as the ones used for Olympic Games. The only difference is the table used for wheelchair players. The legs of the table are fixed at least 40cm inside the end line. They are built like this, to prevent players from hitting the table incase they get close to the table.

Receive Warm Support From Players All Over The World

The Paralympic table tennis project has progressed very well with significant development. More than 2,300 athletes participated in the 12th Paralympic Games, in Athens. 254 athletes from 41 countries and regions participated in the Paralympic Table Tennis Tournament.

Throughout the competition, there were 28 classification levels of wheelchairs and standing. The Paralympic delegations from 21 countries and regions around the world won the medals.

The Paralympic Games also attracted many royal people to watch the game. For example, the Queen of Serbia and the Queen Victoria of Sweden, the Princess of Sofia and Princess Aina of Spain, the Princess of Norway, Princess Louise, the Crown Prince of Belgium, and the Prince of Jordan. They have all  been presented during the Paralympic Games.

During last two days of the competition, the President of the International Table Tennis Federation, Sarah, came to the stadium and participated in the award ceremony to show support for the Paralympics.


Read also: Table Tennis Rules For Blind Players


Warren Davies

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