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Outlook for winter sports optimistic

By Wang Kan | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-27 09:22

Song Chen/China Daily

Editor's note: Beijing and Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, are preparing to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. How will the Winter Games influence the development of winter sports and the winter sports industry in China? And what measures should be taken to promote winter sports and the winter sports industry in the country? Two experts share their views with China Daily's Wang Kan. Excerpts follow:

Balance development of winter sports needed

Winter sports are relatively new to China and not played by many Chinese people. In recent years, the Chinese winter sports team participated in some individual events in the 2016 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Seoul and the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, the Republic of Korea, and won some medals, including gold medals.

The development of winter sports in China suffers from regional imbalance, with people in the northeastern region being the most avid fans and practitioners of winter sports.

But after winning the bid to host the 2022 Winter Games, especially since the issuing of a guideline that aims to prompt 300 million people to play winter sports by 2022, the development of winter sports and the winter sports industry has gathered pace in China.

And if some strategies, including efforts to popularize winter sports in other parts of the country, succeed, people in not only Northeast China but also in other regions could be seen playing winter sports in a few years time.

In fact, the number of people involved in winter sports has increased drastically in many cities in the past few years. For example, Shanghai has 15 ice rinks and seven curling tracks. Southern cities such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen are making efforts to promote winter sports and achieved some success.

So despite the foundation of winter sports in China being weak, the general development momentum is optimistic.

In this sense, winning the bid to host the 2022 Winter Games is a shot in the arm for winter sports and the winter sports industry in China.

The sports industry's development, to a large extent, is propelled by sports tournaments-which by their very nature cover every aspect of the sports industry. The 2022 Winter Games is likely to attract millions of people across China to skiing, skating and other winter sports, which in turn will promote more national and international winter sports events. With the aim to better develop winter sports, governments at all levels should issue policies to encourage more people, in particular, teenagers, to follow and play winter sports.

Besides, the government should learn from the experiences of Nordic countries how to increase the popularity of winter sports.

Li Hai, director of the School of Economics and Management, Shanghai University of Sport

Concerted efforts to develop winter sports

Winter sports have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially after China won the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, creating a huge opportunity for the development of the winter sports industry.

The development of winter sports will help meet the diversified needs of sports fans, which is conducive to social and economic development. Notably, the General Administration of Sport has issued a document emphasizing the importance of planning in the development of the winter sports industry. For instance, some departments have made efforts to optimize their resources by building more winter sports venues so they can encourage more people to take up winter sports.

The Beijing municipal government and Hebei provincial government have worked out policies to encourage more school students to play winter sports, and take part in winter sports events on campuses.

As the social sector plays a crucial role in the development and popularization of sports, including winter sports, we should advocate and support its growth. Since the winter sports industry is part of the general sports industry, the expansion of the former automatically means the expansion of the latter.

Some local governments have used winning the bid to host the 2022 Winter Games as an inspiration to popularize winter sports among children and youths. For example, some departments have hosted various theme activities to spread knowledge about and attract more people to winter sports.

Since advancement in winter sports also signifies a country's comprehensive sports strength, we should make concerted efforts to develop winter sports in China.

Zou Xinxian, director of Management School, Beijing Sport University
The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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