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People's Daily Online>>Sports

Qingdao: It's not just for sailing anymore

By Yang Xinwei (China Daily)

09:12, December 07, 2011

Qingdao, China's premier sailing city, is trying to push its citizens to participate in sports other than those at sea.

The coastal city introduced an eight-month Qingdao Sports Congress from March to November, which was not a meeting, but a series of non-Olympic sporting activities people could practice daily.

"Qingdao is famous for ocean sports, culminating with the hosting of the sailing and yachting competitions during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games," said Lin Zhiwei, chairwoman of the Qingdao Sports Federation. "However, we believe we need to satisfy all kinds of sporting needs for the people in Qingdao. We believe sport makes people healthier, and that's why our slogan for the congress was 'Sports Makes City Healthier'."

The congress started in 2003. This year's event, the third edition, featured 457 events in 46 sports.

"To tell you the truth, I only spent 1.2 million yuan to host the eight-month congress," said Lin, who launched the Qingdao Beer Festival when she was Qingdao Tourism Bureau chief. "I fully cultivated all kinds of social resources and the enthusiasm for sports of the Qingdao citizens."

More than 95 percent of the 46 sports were backed by regional sports organizations or clubs, and more than 40,000 Qingdao citizens took part.

China issued the National Fitness Regulations, signed by Premier Wen Jiabao and released in September 2009, which promised citizens would have greater access to sports facilities.

Promoting sports for all is a core mission of the Chinese government and its sports administrators.

Local administrators have been urged by the central government to provide more and better sports and public services for the public, enabling everyone to share the fruits of sports development and enjoy the health benefits and joy of participation.

Golf, gradually starting to throw off its tag of being a sport for the rich thanks to its Olympic comeback in 2016, was among the sports at the congress. The competition was not of a particularly high standard, but it is drawing more attention from China's sports administrators and mavens.

Wang Fang, deputy secretary-general of the Qingdao Golf Association, pointed out that a lack of media coverage was part of the reason for the game's previous low profile while also citing the high price to play and a lack of proper management. Wang has urged more government support and guidance.

As one of China's first cities to introduce sailing, Qingdao is fully utilizing its advantages and has hosted such famous international events as the Volvo Ocean Race, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and the Mini Transat 650.

"Successfully hosting the Beijing Olympic sailing competition established Qingdao's status in China sailing, but we also want to realize the dream of sports for all," said Lin. "We need to have mass sports activities flourish here and make the concept of keeping fit through sports a common practice."

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