Today’s News

Posted in News at 3:36 pm by Nicole

No spitting, no cutting in line, and follow those traffic laws: If you’re looking for a comprehensive overview of the challenges facing Beijing twenty-eight months out from the 2008 Olympics, look no further than this article from yesterday’s Edmonton Journal. The author was part of a recent press tour to Beijing’s Olympic venue sites and lays out in great detail the changes Beijing is attempting to adopt in order to show the world its best face. In addition to the obvious things, like finishing venues in time for test events to be run before the Olympics, there are the subtleties, like discouraging public spitting and traffic violations.

(You haven’t seen traffic violations until you’ve seen China, a place where we affectionately say that streetlights and road markings are mere suggestions. Today, my bus in Shantou ran a red light by passing the several cars and motorbikes stopped at the light on the left-hand side…that is, by passing into the lane reserved for oncoming traffic.)

It’s hard to know what it will take to change a culture – even if only for the two weeks of the Olympics – but word on the street is that the Chinese government will do everything in its power to showcase Beijing. Prison sentences for public spitters? Who knows, but based on what China is capable of doing when it wants to accomplish something, I wouldn’t put it past them.

Chinese golfers missing the cut: An article from Slam! Sports in Canada underscores the irony now being seen in China’s push to host major international sports events. The reality is that there are very few Chinese athletes who can keep pace with the rest of the world. Case in point: the China Open golf tournament, which just wrapped up in Beijing. Only one mainland Chinese player made the cut. It will probably be quite a while before China sees great professional sports success. The Olympics will be a different story, because the Olympics are the lifeblood of Chinese athletic development. My feeling is that when the official priorities change – when it’s acceptable to develop athletes who are allowed to succeed in Western terms, not just collect gold medals for China – the success rate of Chinese athletes in mainstream professional sports events will increase as well.

In Other News: Steven Spielberg will advise Chinese film director Zhang Yimou (Hero, Raise The Red Lantern) on the design of the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2008 Olympics. Football team Chelsea has extended an offer to the Chinese national football squad to provide training facilities for them ahead of 2008.


London 2012 goes to Beijing 2008

Posted in News at 12:28 pm by Nicole

The Guardian Unlimited (UK) has published two excellent stories in the last few days on last week’s visit to Beijing by Sebastian Coe, the former middle-distance running star and chair of the London 2012 organizing committee. The preview story published a week ago Sunday laid out Coe’s goals for the Beijing visit and offered up some very interesting observations about China, the IOC, and the ways in which politics play a role in the selection of Olympic host cities. Today’s story is an overview of Coe’s experience in Beijing and compares the budgets and long-term goals of the Beijing and London Olympic organizing committees.

In other news, the Miami Herald reports that the United States Olympic Committee will send a delegation to China next week to get the lay of the land in advance of the Beijing Olympics. The article provides an excellent overview of the Chinese effort to train the world’s best athletes. Among the most telling observations: that in the United States, nine-year-olds won’t practice twice a day, but they will in China, where promising athletes attend special sports schools. “Politics aside, it’s true that young athletes can be cloistered and trained more efficiently in a totalitarian society,” the article states. True enough – and a reason why China will be an extraordinarily formidable athletic force in 2008.


Today’s News Updates

Posted in News at 1:05 pm by Nicole

I returned to Shantou last night from Hong Kong having learned a Very Important Lesson: make sure you know the holiday schedule for the country you’re living in at all times. Today is April 5, “Qing Ming Jie,” or the holiday for honoring the dead. It’s the day when Chinese people return to their hometowns to pay homage to their ancestors. Judging from the traffic on the Shen-Shan Expressway yesterday afternoon and evening, there are a whole lot of people whose ancestors lie in Shantou who happen to now live in Shenzhen. What was supposed to be a four-to-five hour bus ride took six and a half hours. Got home in one piece, just a whole lot later than I expected.

Here’s the news summary from the last few days:

SHORT-TRACK SPEEDSKATING: The world championships in short track concluded on Sunday in Minneapolis, with much success going to the Chinese women. Highlights included gold for the team relay, gold for Wang Meng in the 500 meters and silver in the 1500 meters and 3000 meters, and silver for Fu Tianyu in the 500 meters. Read the story at the International Skating Union website here. Full results and reports are available on the ISU’s “Cyberscoreboard” here. The Cincinnati Post ran a short article summarizing the results of the event with quotes from Wang Meng.

In what is sure to be the first of many dispatches on this topic between now and 2008, we note that the ISU reports Chinese names with the given name first, followed by family name. Chinese names are normally written using the family name first. So, Wang Meng and Meng Wang are the same person (her family name is Wang). This website will always use the standard Chinese convention.

SPORTS BUSINESS: The China International Sporting Goods Show will be held in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, from April 20-23. China Economic Net has written a feature article about the event in slightly dicey but overall understandable English. According to the event website this is the largest sporting goods show in the Asia-Pacific region with 1000 exhibitors and over 50,000 buyers from around the world. The event website also includes a link to the Hong Kong International Sporting Goods Show, which took place from March 16-18. I’ve added links for both shows to the “Sports Business” page of this website for future reference.

SWIMMING: Canada’s Slam! Sports is reporting on the FINA short-course world swimming championships beginning today in Shanghai and running through April 9. Read the Slam! article here, and check out the event website here.

An interesting side note to the news article is that China’s Le Jingyi, a 1996 Olympic champion, took part in the festivities inaugurating the new swimming facility in Shanghai that is hosting the event. Le Jingyi is widely suspected of having been involved in the doping scandal that enveloped Chinese swimming in the early 1990′s, but there is no mention of that in the article. For the sake of the future of elite sports, I believe it’s imperative to keep the issue of doping at the forefront of all sports reporting, lest we become less than vigilant in the face of seemingly superhuman feats. This is not to take away from Le’s accomplishments, but it’s an oversight that I felt needed to be corrected.

PING-PONG DIPLOMACY: All of my students know the term “乒乓外交” (pronounced “ping-pong-why-gee-ow”) – “ping-pong diplomacy.” The act of sending ping pong teams where world leaders would otherwise never go did wonders for Nixon and Mao, and now it’s doing the same for China and Japan, two countries whose relationship to one another is tense even in the best of times. Xinhua reports on a reunion of Japanese and Chinese ping pong athletes in Beijing on the 50th anniversary of the 1956 world championships, which were held in Tokyo and which marked the first “sports exchange” between the two countries since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

The Times UK is running a related story detailing the history of events between the United States and China that led to Mao’s invitation to the United States team in 1971.


ISSF Shooting Events Held In China

Posted in News at 1:52 pm by Nicole

In today’s news: The International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) held a World Cup event in rifle and pistol in Guangzhou (capital of Guangdong province, where Shantou is located) from March 25 to April 4. Chinese readers can check out coverage on the Chinese Shooting Association’s website here. Read ISSF coverage of Chinese athlete Liu Bo at the Guangzhou event here. The ISSF also wrote a story on Chinese athlete Ren Jie, who also competed in Guangzhou. Check the main ISSF website for more coverage of this event. The Indian online newspaper The Hindu wrote a story about the Indian women’s team standings at this event. The ISSF World Cup event in shotgun starts today in Qingyuan City, Guangdong, China, and will run until April 11.


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


Sports Illustrated is coming to China

Posted in News at 7:26 am by Nicole

Both the Sports Business Daily and Japan’s Mainichi Daily News are reporting today that Sports Illustrated will be launching a biweekly Chinese-language edition starting in the fall of 2006. The Chinese team producing the edition will be based in Beijing and will initially focus on coverage of professional basketball and European football.

The launch of a Chinese-language edition of SI is great news for sports enthusiasts inside China and testament to the fact that more and more American magazine brands are trying their luck in the Chinese publishing market. Sports and lifestyle titles abound, but the introduction of the most widely read sports news magazine into China is a clear indication that SI believes the market for sports news inside China is growing and will only get larger and larger as the 2008 Olympics approach.

~ Nicole

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