Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Beijing this weekend and is set to sign around 30 new deals with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but the most interesting of all from a sporting perspective will be fresh details about Beijing’s new franchise in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), Russia’s answer to the NHL.
Reading the Meet our new Owner introductory page on Aston Villa’s official website, new chairman Tony Xia ticks all the right boxes: young, presentable, well-educated, former player, long-time Villa fan and – as an employer of 35,000 people in 75 countries – presumably also fantastically rich.
But the truth, it seems, is not quite that simple.
After a breathless few weeks during which the entire sporting world has been talking about Chinese football (with yours truly quoted by AFP three times, FT twice, El Pais, Hicimos, Vice Sports and interviewed by CCTV, BBC and Al Jazeera among others), let’s take a look at a few stories that could be cropping up over the next 12 months…
Headlines last week left readers with little doubt about the state of golf in China:
- “Golf banned for China’s Party members” (CNN)
- “Communist party commands its 88 million members to abstain from playing golf” (Guardian sub-heading)
- “To fight corruption, China officially bans golf for party cadres” (Washington Post)
- “China just banned 88 million people joining golf clubs” (USA Today)
- “Communist Party bans club membership” (BBC)
- “China tees off against golf, gluttony in anti-graft drive” (Reuters)
- “Stocks, Sex and Golf: China’s Ruling Party Targets Temptations” (Bloomberg)
Pretty clear, right? Well, actually, no. As this article from shougolf.com points out [in Chinese], it turns out that the Washington Post and the BBC (its two main targets) and others jumped the gun somewhat on their “China bans golf/golf club memberships” headlines.
CCTV, IMG and Infront – all huge names in the sports industry – were among the suitors to buy the rights to produce and broadcast the Chinese Super League. But these three, and others, were obliterated by the bid submitted by the comparatively little known Tiao Power, worth a staggering 8 billion yuan over five years.
The World Athletics Championships kick off in Beijing today, with the world’s media focusing more on the doping allegations that have engulfed the sport than on the sporting action. This is completely understandable, given the revelations that have come out in recent weeks – for example, that one third of the athletes who competed at the 2011 World Champs in South Korea had suspicious tests during the previous 12 months.
However, Chinese media – led by national broadcaster CCTV – have been putting more of a positive spin on things, as is their government-directed wont. Wall-to-wall coverage of former meets (including the 2008 Beijing Olympics) has been shown on sports channel CCTV-5 in recent days, educating and encouraging the public in equal measures, in the hope that they embrace these championships.
The problem is: Liu Xiang, China’s 110m hurdles 2004 Olympic champion and the sport’s only real domestic star, recently retired.
Here is a list of all the Chinese contenders hoping to step into Liu’s size 11s: Continue reading China’s medal contenders
In a few hours’ time, IOC President Thomas Bach will announce either China’s capital, Beijing, or Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, as the host of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Here are some reasons why China should be confident of success – and some reasons to worry:
Why Beijing will win Continue reading Beijing vs Almaty: The Final Countdown
All the talk in this part of the world is how China is bound to win the 2022 Olympics, given that its only rival in this two-horse race is so nondescript that many haven’t even heard of it, let alone be able to place it on a map (for the record, Almaty is in Kazakhstan, only a few hundred miles from the Chinese border).
But there is one very obvious hurdle here: this is a Winter Games, and while Almaty was described in the IOC’s evaluation commission report (ECR) as “a winter sports city, with easy access to the mountains and some world-class winter sports venues”, check out pictures from the same ECR of where China’s bid plans to hold the skiing event:
Hands up if you can spot the apparent contradiction with these two recent headlines:
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