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Next year's wushu tournament aims to increase sport's appeal
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09:25, November 08, 2007

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The Beijing 2008 Wushu Tournament, an international martial arts competition held on the sidelines of the Beijing Olympic Games next year, will feature 15 events for both men and women and should attract about 120 wushu players from all over the world, event officials announced on Tuesday.

The tournament will be held from August 21-24 next year at Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium.

Since the IOC has committed to keeping the size and cost of the Olympics in check, wushu is not among the 28 sports to be held during the Beijing Olympic Games.

"According to the Host City Contract, no international or national sports competition is allowed to be held in the Olympic host city during the Games and one week before or after. But this wushu tournament has been approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) specifically," said Wang Xiaolin, director of China's Wushu Administrative Center.

Officials hope to expose the traditional Chinese martial art to more people through the tournament.

"We hope more people will feel the charm of wushu during the 2008 tournament," said Wang.

As a part of the qualifications for the tournament, the Ninth World Wushu Championships will be held from November 11-17 at the same venue. It has also been included in the "Good Luck Beijing" sports event, a series of test events ahead of the Beijing Games.

According to the organizers, there will be more than 1,000 players, coaches, judges and officials from 88 countries and regions coming for the championships, making it the biggest such event since its first incarnation in 1991, also held in Beijing.

Altogether there will be 40 events during this year's championships - 22 Taolu competitions and 18 Sanshou competitions.

"In the competitions of Taijiquan and Taijijian, accompanying music will be introduced for the first time," said Wang. "We hope it will add excitement to the appreciation of the competitions."

In order to further promote and expand the influence of wushu worldwide, the championships' organizing committee also invited Jet Li, a well-known international action-movie star and an outstanding wushu player, to be its goodwill ambassador.

China began to promote wushu in 1982, and held the first International Wushu Invitational Tournament in 1985 in Xi'an, northwestern China's Shaanxi Province. Since then Wushu has sprouted up in many countries and regions.

According to Wang, 115 members from five continents currently make up the International Wushu Federation (IWUF). Five more will be accepted at the IWUF executive board meeting soon in Beijing.

"Wushu is developing well in Europe, in places like Russia and Italy," said Wang. "Some European players have advantages in middle and heavyweight categories in Sanshou competitions and they can even threaten the Chinese.

"Nowadays, we cannot take for granted that the Chinese players will win all the gold medals. Foreign players are competitive enough as well."

Source: China Daily

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