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2020 Olympic Betting Preview: Table Tennis

by July 20, 2021

Over the next week, we’ll be providing comprehensive betting previews for every major event ahead of the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, which will run from July 23 – August 8. This edition focuses on the table tennis competition, which will be held July 24 – August 6 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

China barely broke a sweat in sweeping the table tennis gold-medal table (double table alert!) at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio – and oddsmakers like the chances of that happening again five years later in Tokyo.

The Chinese contingent is the favorite in all five events at this year’s Olympics. And it gets better (or worse, if you’re the competition): China’s men’s and women’s doubles teams are both so overwhelmingly favored that even betting $100 on either crew will barely win you enough money to buy a gallon of gas. Oh, and both singles competitions feature Chinese players slotted into the top two spots by a significant margin.

Here’s a breakdown of the table tennis betting landscape heading into what could be another China-dominated competition:

Schedule of Events

  • July 24: Preliminary round (men’s and women’s singles, mixed doubles)
  • July 25: Preliminary round (men’s and women’s singles), quarter-finals, and semifinals (mixed doubles)
  • July 26: Preliminary round (men’s and women’s singles), final (mixed doubles)
  • July 27: Preliminary round (men’s and women’s singles)
  • July 28: Quarter-finals (men’s and women’s singles)
  • July 29: Semifinals (men’s singles), semifinals, and final (women’s singles)
  • July 30: Final (men’s singles)
  • August 1-2: Preliminary round (men’s and women’s team)
  • August 3: Quarter-finals (men’s team), quarter-finals, and semifinals (women’s team)
  • August 4: Semifinals (men’s team)
  • August 5: Final (women’s team)
  • August 6: Final (men’s team)

2016 Results

(Source: Wikipedia)

Betting Odds

Men’s Singles

Men’s Doubles

Women’s Singles

Women’s Doubles

Mixed Doubles

(Odds courtesy DraftKings Sportsbook)

Why Should I Bet On This?

Table tennis helped countless North American bettors through the enormous sports wagering void of 2020 – and not just because it was one of the only bettable pastimes going. In-game table tennis betting is frenetic: The odds shift with every point, and those shifts can get quite dramatic when players get near the end of the set.

If you have the stomach for it, you can dive headlong into in-game table tennis betting and potentially clean up. The favorite falls behind 2-0? He’s now the underdog in the set – and that’s an angle you can play if you feel like he’s still the superior option. But you have to be fast: dally even for a minute, and all of a sudden it’s 2-2, and your window of opportunity to profit goes out the window.

3 Things You Absolutely Need to Know

  • If you’re looking for the best opportunity to win $2 or $4 off a $100 wager, this is the competition for you. Over the years, China has been simply dominant in this event, winning 28 of a possible 32 gold medals since table tennis was introduced as a full Olympic sport at the 1988 Games in Seoul. South Korea has three golds to its credit, while Sweden (yeah!) has the other.
  • As if that first stat weren’t ridiculous enough, the Chinese have also copped 17 of the 32 silver medals handed out in Olympic competition; no other nation has won more than three silvers. That’s some kind of amazing.
  • The United States has been well-represented at Olympic table tennis competitions, at least from a sheer numbers standpoint: The U.S. has sent at least four participants to every Summer Games since 1992. Alas, it’s still looking for its first Olympic medal.

The Favorites

Zhendong Fan, China (-145): Fan is well on his way to being one of the greatest table tennis players of all time; despite being just 24 years old going into the Summer Games, he has already been the world’s No. 1 player for more than three years and is the reigning World Cup champion. This is his first trip to the Olympics, and there’s a good chance he’ll be atop the podium when all is said and done.

Meng Chen, China (-145): Chen has been a buzzsaw since play resumed following the COVID-19, winning both the World Cup and ITTF Pro Tour Finals championships. She has been the top-ranked women’s player in the world since January 2018 and won’t have to contend with compatriot Manyu Wang, who has beaten her twice this year but was not one of the two women chosen to represent China in Tokyo.

The Live Underdogs

Mima Ito, Japan (+500): Ito has the best shot of any individual player at cutting into China’s gold or silver-medal haul in Tokyo. The local favorite has victories over several prominent Chinese players – including a stunning 4-0 win over reigning Olympic champion Ding Ning that featured an 11-0 set win. Ito will need to be at her absolute best to finish top-two here, but she has the goods to do it.

Tomokazu Harimoto, Japan (+600): If there’s one player well-suited to end China’s dominance in the Olympic men’s table tennis competition, it’s Harimoto. Presently ranked fifth in the world (but third at the Summer Games), Harimoto won the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals title in 2018 and placed second at the World Cup in 2019. A little home-court advantage won’t hurt, though he still has his work cut out for him.

The Longshots

Yun-Ju Lin, Taipei (+1600): The current No. 6 men’s player in the world hasn’t had the best start to the 2021 season, suffering an upset loss in the finals of the WTT Doah before getting knocked off in the quarter-finals at the WTT Star Contender. Still, the talented left-hander has proven his mettle with a second-runner-up finish at the 2019 World Cup and could make things interesting in Tokyo if he’s on his game.

Kasumi Ishikawa, Japan (+1600): Ishikawa is beloved in Japan, so it’s a shame she won’t have a hometown crowd to play in front of at the 2020 Games. But that shouldn’t detract from her contender status: while her best days might be behind her, the 28-year-old already has a win over Ito this season and has trained extensively with Chinese players and coaches. She can make a run, though it’ll be tough.

Betting Picks

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