Although ping pong is popular throughout the world, not many people know that the sport was actually first played in Victorian-era England. This is of course due to the fact that today, ping pong is mostly associated with Asian countries, as they have dominated the sport at the Olympics in recent years. For those who want to improve their game and travel at the same time, a trip to Asia, to either play or be a spectator, is highly recommended. Here we list three countries you must visit if you love ping pong.
No other country is as closely associated with ping pong than China. Chinese athletes have managed to sweep both the men’s and women’s gold medals since the 2008 Beijing Olympics in a display of consistent dominance. In fact, ever since the sport’s introduction to the Olympics in 1988, only South Korea and Sweden have managed to take gold medals away from the country. South Korea in 1988, 1992, and 2004, and Sweden also in 1992. Such stellar performance has been attributed to the ubiquity of the sport in the country’s parks and numerous clubs, which visitors can also use. For anyone looking to improve their game, China is the place to be.
Vietnam is fast becoming one of the top countries in the world for ping pong. The Nhan Dan Newspaper reported that with the national team coming out of the third division, funding for proper equipment and facilities have been pouring in for their ping pong players. To demonstrate how seriously the country is taking the sport, the youth teams are now training in China in order to compete on the international stage. Vietnam has always had a close relationship with China, which is reflected in how close the two cultures are. In Expatbets’ definitive guide to Vietnam, they note how China has also influenced their language, arts, and culture. For visitors it is also popular due to its low cost of living, which means a trip to play or watch ping pong won’t break the bank.
The British army first introduced Japan to ping pong. And Japan’s love for ping pong may be the most unique in all of Asia. Ping pong loving tourists looking to work off some calories after a meal, can check out Shibuya’s ping pong-themed restaurant T4. Japan Info reports that in 2017, T4 introduced the Rally Table. This table tracks the ball’s movements on a digital map, which allows players to see how well they are hitting the ball and helps them improve their game. For those who want something sweet, the restaurant has ice pops modeled after ping pong rackets. With 54 seats and 8 ping pong tables, T4 looks to combine dining, drinking and brushing up on your ping pong skills into one fun experience. With a growing interest in the sport hot off the back of Jun Mizutani’s bronze-medal in the Rio Olympics, don’t be surprised if we see more similar restaurants soon. It’s a truly fun way to enjoy the sport while traveling.
Whether you’re looking to get into the sport or a veteran looking to improve your skills, ping pong is the perfect gateway to new opportunities. If you have just returned from a trip to any of the above countries and what to know more, here on GoSports Reviews we have reviewed the best equipment to buy. No matter what your level, ping pong is a great way to broaden your horizons both at home and abroad.