China is shaping up to be the dominant force in table tennis once again. Defending men's singles champion Ma Long and defending women's singles champion Ding Ning are each looking to win a third Olympic gold. Rio men's singles bronze medalist Jun Mizutani will compete in front of a home crowd in Tokyo, his fourth Olympics. Rio women's singles bronze medalist Kim Song-I, who represents North Korea, was also looking likely to return, but the nation pulled out of the Games.
Li Xiaoxia, the Rio women's singles silver medalist from China, retired in 2017. She previously earned three Olympic gold medals, including in singles in 2012. Men's singles silver medalist Zhang Jike has publicly considered retirement, but it's not yet clear what his plans are.
New faces to watch
China's Fan Zhendong, who's been ranked among the world's best since 2013, is looking to make his first Olympics and challenge his potential teammate Ma. Japan's Harimota Tomokazu is a contender, as is Brazil's Hugo Calderano -- the first Latin table tennis player to enter the world top 10. On the women's side, China currently has the two top-ranked players in the world in Meng Chen and Yingsha Sun.
The addition of the mixed doubles competition could also lead to a few new faces, though if a country has a team qualified for either gender, the mixed doubles pair must pull from the team roster.