Q & A: Why do Chinese care so much about sports?

12:56, October 01, 2009      

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From "sick man of Asia" to the top on the Olympic gold medal list, China presents the world with the progress it has made in both promoting national fitness and training athletic talents during the 60 years since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949.

To mark the moment are legendary Chinese renowned gymnast Li Ning, star hurdler Liu Xiang and other athletes and coaches who make their presence on floats in two formations themed "sports development" and "Beijing Olympics" passing the Tian'anmen Square on Thursday morning.

Attending the formations marching on the Chang'an Avenue are also paraders riding racing bicycles, holding volleyballs, waving rackets, or holding "Fuwa", the mascot of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, in addition to those in Tai Chi uniforms.

The parade hailed the fact that Chinese had shrugged off the nickname "sick man of Asia" and grown to be a big sports power.

Liu Peng, director of the General Administration of Sports, said on Sept. 27 that the 60 years had witnessed a great leap fromshortage of sports facilities and national weak physique before New China was founded.

The Chinese government has worked hard to promote national fitness since then. In 1952, Chairman Mao Zedong set the principleof "Promoting physical culture and sports; strengthening the people's physique" for physical exercises nationwide.

In 1995, China adopted the "Physical Health Law of the People's Republic of China". In the same year, the State Council unveiled the "Outline of Nationwide Physical Fitness Program", pledging a sports and health-building service system for the general public.

Under the 15-year-long program, the government will take measures to ensure that about 40 percent of the Chinese people participate in regular physical exercises by 2010.

As of the end of 2003, China had 850,080 stadiums or gymnasiums, a surge from less than 5,000 in 1949. Now Chinese people have muchmore options in terms of facilities and sports activities rather than learning martial arts and playing table tennis on dismantled door board.

In January this year, the State Council, or Cabinet, named Aug.8 as the National Fitness Day. The fresh move was aimed to meet people's need for sports activities.

Now outdoor fitness facilities have been installed in urban communities in public parks, squares, schoolyards, and other convenient locations.

The State Council pledged greater access to sports facilities by rolling out the National Fitness Regulations on Sept. 6, effective from Oct. 1 this year.

"The launch of the National Fitness Day is a vivid reflection of the legacy that the Beijing Olympics has left for the people and society," Liu said.

The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games was held in the Chinese capital from Aug. 8 to Aug. 24.

For the first time China ranked top at the Beijing Games by winning 51 gold and total 100 medals. The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games also wowed global audience with stunning opening and closing ceremonies, directed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, at the National Stadium.

China participated in the Olympic Games for the first time in Los Angeles, the United States, in 1932, but got no metals.

Chinese shooter Xu Haifeng won China's first Olympic gold medal in the 50m pistol final in 1984 in the Los Angeles Olympic Games.

As of the end of August this year, Chinese athletes had won 2,310 gold medals in various world championships and Olympic Games and broken 1,195 world's record.

Source: Xinhua
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