What's heading to China? Just about everything

Updated: 2011-11-02 08:01

By Wu Ying (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Back in 1982, in Scotland, a soccer friendly drew nearly 50,000 people to take a look at the visiting Chinese national team against the Glasgow Rangers. China lost, 3-1. Now one of the Ranger players in that match is helping bring some top world sports events and players to China, and this time, everyone seems to win.

Millions of Chinese snooker fans will have every reason to be joyous because of the soon-to-be-launched top events at home, as will motor sports and boxing lovers all around the country.

Ex-professional footballer David Mackinnon (pictured below) is now a director of Sport Pathways, a company in the UK set up to promote sporting excellence and assist in developing sport culture to all nations.

He spoke to China Daily about the new plans on Friday during a news conference for the inaugural China International Sports Culture Expo, which takes place from Dec 16-18.

"China is fast becoming the biggest sport nation in the world, which is generally accepted by many people, so any prestigious event in the world has to come to China," said the 55-year-old.

Former World Snooker chairman and chairman of Sports Pathways Sir Rodney Walker sanctioned two ranking events in China - the China Open and the Shanghai Masters. Having been to China more than 10 times, Mackinnon was also involved in the Beijing Television event and the Hainan World Open.

Mackinnon said he has spoken to Barry Hearn, chairman of World Snooker, who believed there is always the opportunity to bring something different to China.

The China vs. the World event is a new concept, which will likely take place next year in Hangzhou, Zhejiang.

Top Chinese players will slug it out with a team of the best overseas players. Expectations will be high because big names like Ding Junhui are hoped to play in the event.

Asked about his impression of Chinese snooker sensation Ding, Mackinnon said Ding is an exceptional player and a gentleman.

"He is always keen to promote China to the world, and he knows that he has a responsibility to the Chinese nation. He has to perform well and to conduct himself properly and he does that on every occasion."

A snooker reality show to find future stars is also on the agenda. Snooker needs to relive its heydays by encouraging more participation at the grassroots in China. Mackinnon said China is very important for the future development of snooker and other sports.

Motor sports fans may soon hear the roaring of engines. As China's World Rally Championship (WRC) promoter, Mackinnon said it has been a dream to introduce China to the event. It falls under the governing body FIA (International Auto Federation).

WRC has 13 rallies spread across three continents.

One report says the sport can have up to 50 million euros of total economic impact on a country when it stages an event.

"It is exciting, and it is in the countryside, so it can go to any part of China It brings the sport to the people rather than the other way that sometimes people have to come to the sportFans can get close to the action, so that is a huge advantage," Mackinnon said.

MacKinnon said he believes the sport will capture the imagination of the Chinese public.

Mackinnon said that championship will have an introduction next year, choose a region, and there will be a trial event the following year.

The year after that, there will be a fully sanctioned and ranked WRC event.

The WRC was in China in 1999 but it didn't come back, so local fans had to wait for over a decade. The long wait is coming to an end soon because of the partnership between Sport Pathways and Global Sports and Entertainment, whose chairwoman, Denise Li, said her team aims to help the government to promote sports culture and therefore wants to launch several different world-level sports tournament to the country.

China Daily

What's heading to China? Just about everything

(China Daily 11/02/2011 page22)