China sports news today

Posted in News at 3:57 am by Nicole

Lots of news today from all over the Chinese sports spectrum.

NFL (American) Football: The Associated Press is reporting today that the NFL is considering holding a preseason game in China in 2007, one year before the Olympics are staged. Outgoing NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue visited China last May to look at marketing opportunities for American football in China, and has cited the opportunity afforded by the 2008 Olympics as a reason for introducing the “other” football into China. The San Jose Mercury News has the full story here. European football, known as soccer in the United States, is one of the most popular sports in China. I’m amazed by my Chinese friends’ and students’ intimate knowledge of the English Premier League and the various European leagues. Not to mention the 2006 World Cup in Germany, which should be a huge draw for television audiences in China this summer. See the story below for more on World Cup coverage in China.

Doping: [Note: The article referred to in this entry is no longer available online] A pretty astonishing story being carried by Reuters India and South Africa’s Supersport details the sad plight of female Chinese weightlifter Zou Chunlan, who was a medal-winner at China’s National Games between 1987 and 1993 but is now, at age 36, in failing health because of the drugs she says she was forced to take by her coaches. She was discovered working in a bath house in Changchun and was quoted as saying that she had been all but abandoned by the Chinese sports system. Zou’s competition dates square with China’s most high-profile drug scandals, including the emergence of Ma Junren’s team of world-beating female distance runners in 1993 and the positive doping tests of seven Chinese swimmers in 1994 at the Asian Games. It must be noted that China is now undertaking a massive campaign to rid sports of performance-enhancing drugs ahead of the 2008 Olympics, so China’s drug scandals may – if anti-doping officials’ actions match their rhetoric – be in the past. Still, it’s sad to see a champion like Zou fall through the cracks and become a poster child for illicit drug use in sports, much like the East German women in the 1980′s who won medals but now face a lifetime of health problems related to steroid abuse.

Sports Business: IT News Online reports today on a partnership between China’s sports newspaper Titan Sports Weekly and Chinese Internet firm Tom Online Inc. (known affectionately in China as “tom-dot-com”) to carry multimedia coverage of the 2006 World Cup. The integration of sports content they’re planning sounds exciting and far-thinking in the new world of sports content delivery, where live results are available instantly over the Internet and tape-delayed television coverage as the only means of content delivery seems to be going the way of the dinosaur. China’s as wired a country as they come and it will be interesting to see if China becomes a leader in the business of multimedia sports content delivery. From the success of the NCAA basketball tournament games being offered online in the United States it would seem that this is the new Holy Grail of sports broadcasting – figuring out how to profitably integrate multiple methods of sports content delivery (television, Internet, mobile phone, PDA). We’ll continue to watch this story and report on new developments.

Health News: As part of the 11th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development, China is undertaking a program to build modest athletic facilities in every village in the country. Reuters reports today that Feng Jianzhong, vice minister of China’s sports administration, outlined the program during a press conference on Wednesday, March 29. Though eighty percent of China’s population lives in rural areas, only eight percent of the country’s athletic facilities are available to the rural population. Much like the former Soviet Union, China has traditionally focused its sports development on elite teams made up of athletes plucked from after-school programs when very young. The most recent Party Congress took up the issue of rural-urban inequality on many fronts and this seems like a positive development for the rural population of China.

- Nicole

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