Wushu ready for Olympic debut

Wushu, a traditional Chinese martial art, will feature at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, it was reaffirmed yesterday.

"As of now, we know that wushu will be included in the Beijing Olympics, though not as an official medal sport," said Wang Xiaolin, director of the Wushu Administration Centre under the China State General Administration of Sport.

"Through numerous efforts, we will finally take wushu to the Olympic stage."

He made the comments at a press conference to announce the Second World Traditional Wushu Festival slated for Zhengzhou in Henan Province from October 15 to 19.

"It won't be an official event like the 28 other sports, but it won't be called a demonstration either. It will be called the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Wushu Competition," Wang said.

As early as last October during the 10th China National Games, Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said the Beijing Olympic Games would see wushu.

"It's not going to be one of the official 28 sports but we will organize with BOCOG (the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad) a wushu competition," the Belgian told China Daily at the time.

When Beijing won the right to host the 2008 Games, proponents wanted wushu, one of the traditional sports in China, to be listed as an Olympic sport for the home Games. The IOC turned down the proposal but kept the door open for it to be a representation sport.

"We will present medals to the winners. They are not same as the official medals but they also need to be approved by the IOC", Wang said.

The International Wushu Federation (IWF), set up in 1990 and officially recognized by the IOC, now boasts 106 member countries and regions.

"It is playing an important role in promoting and developing the traditional Chinese martial art around the world," Wang said. Wang also serves as the secretary-general of the IWF.

He said Hein Verbruggen, chairman of the IOC's Co-ordination Commission of the Beijing Olympic Games, has expressed his willingness to attend the Second World Traditional Wushu Festival in Zhengzhou, during which the IWF will host three important meetings concerning the future development of the sport around the world.

The festival will attract more than 2,000 of the world's best exponents from 60 countries and regions. Another 40,000 wushu athletes will take part in a demonstration.

Zhengzhou, the origin of the famous Shaolin wushu, hosted the first festival in 2004 with big success, thus winning a second chance from the IWF. It has also hosted seven international Shaolin wushu festivals.

Source: China Daily

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