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  • Sports minister aims at building powerhouse sector by 2035

    China's sports minister Gao Zhidan has highlighted the fight against corruption, promotion of mass fitness and sports industry reforms, among other efforts, for realizing the goal of building a world sporting powerhouse by 2035.

    Despite the successful hosting of international events such as the Hangzhou Asian Games and Chengdu University Games in 2023, China's ambition of developing an all-around sporting power, a national target underlined in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), still needs concerted efforts across areas, such as reform on sports administration, crackdowns on corruption and the development of sport-related businesses, said Gao, director of the General Administration of Sport of China.

    "With 11 years to go before the deadline, we still have a lot of catching up to do and we need to stay cool-headed, in spite of many progresses we've achieved, facing long-running issues hampering the development of the sports sector," Gao, a deputy to the 14th National People's Congress, said on Monday after the closing of the top legislature's annual meeting at the Great Hall of the People.

    Citing the lack of international competitiveness of China's men's national soccer program, Gao has called for stronger anti-graft efforts within the sport's governing bodies at all levels to tackle corruption, a top concern among all challenges, for a healthier and more transparent development of the sport.

    "Systematic corruptions have wreaked havoc with the soccer sector, while the international performances of our 'big-ball' team sports squads have suffered a continuous decline over the past few years, failing to meet the expectations of the central government and ordinary fans," Gao said, referring to the failed qualification campaigns of the country's men's soccer and basketball teams for their respective major tournaments.

    Underlined by the men's soccer squad's failure to qualify for the FIFA World Cup five times in a row, the sluggish development of Chinese men's soccer, hampered by corruption scandals involving top governing body officials and coaches, has been a pressing issue.

    The once competitive men's basketball team, overseen by the Chinese Basketball Association chaired by hoops icon Yao Ming, also suffered a blow on the international stage after failing to qualify for this summer's Paris Olympic tournament to miss out on the high-profile stage for two editions in a row.

    With such struggling performances drawing concerns nationwide, the country's development system, especially for the three collective ball sports (soccer, basketball and volleyball), needs an overhaul with an emphasis on transparent management and a focus on youth promotion at the core, Gao said.

    To get more people involved in a more active and healthier lifestyle, Gao has also pledged more efforts working with all relevant departments to improve and expand the mass fitness campaign to make exercising facilities, training guidance and fitness services more accessible and affordable at the grassroots.

    The development of sports-related business, such as leisure and outdoor sports consumption, sports tourism, and manufacturing of sports equipment, will also be promoted and encouraged to contribute to the country's overall economic growth as one of the sports governing body's priorities, Gao added.

    Source: China Daily