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Olympic table tennis tourney gears up with team draws
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Preparations for the Olympic table tennis competitions have geared up as the draws for the men's and women's team events are set to be made in Beijing on Thursday.

According to a press release by the Beijing Games organizers, the draws will take place on Thursday afternoon at Beijing Science Park Plaza, rather than inside the Peking University Gymnasium, the competition venue.

Both China's men and women paddlers have been seeded top in the 16-team events respectively, according to the standings authorized by the sport's world governing body. Germany, South Korea and Hong Kong followed the hosts China in the men's team seedings, while Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea are the rest among the top four women's teams.

A special team ranking list, taking into consideration only the players qualified from each team, has been produced on the basis of the July 2008 world rankings, released by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) earlier last month, to establish the seeds for the round robin stage.

The Olympic table tennis tournament, slated for Aug. 13-23, introduced a team format for the first time in the history on the cost of the doubles events, following a decision made by the sport's world governing body four years ago in the Athens Olympic Games.

Playing a best-of-five format both in the games and in the team matches, each of the team events' contests consists of two singles followed by a doubles game, followed, if necessary, by one or two singles matches.

In each event, the teams initially compete in four groups with four teams in each; those finishing first and second in each group go on to determine the medal places on an elimination basis. That means the top four seeded teams will not meet each other until the semifinals.

Following the specific rules for the Olympic Games table tennis competitions, a team consists of three players and each team can nominate one alternate player that can replace another one in case of injury or sickness.

(Xinhua News Agency August 6, 2008)

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