Here’s a summary of what you can find in my weekly China Digest for SportBusiness:
Following a documentary on German television last month, the world’s media reported on allegations about China’s doping history, prompting an official reaction from WADA. But how much of this is actually new, what will – or can – WADA do about the claims and what does this mean for China’s future sporting ambitions?
US-based sports marketing guru Joe Favorito reached out and asked me to do a Q&A for his site on various aspects of the Chinese sports industry. Given that his weekly industry newsletter is distributed to well over 30,000 people, I was more than happy to oblige. Joe published the results in two parts – here and here – which are reprinted below.
A large contingent of NHL executives made the trip out to China this week to announce the league’s first initiatives in the country: preseason games between the LA Kings and the Vancouver Canucks in Shanghai (Sept 21) and Beijing (Sept 23), kicking off an eight-year slate of games, which could be upgraded to regular season match-ups as early as 2018. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that might help the NHL in China, as well as the obstacles that lie ahead.
Why hockey will make it in China
1) The timing is right. With less than five years to go to the 2022 Olympics, the government is making a serious push to develop winter sports, and it’s no accident that Chinese President Xi Jinping has been featured in very lengthy segments on the national nightly news touring Olympic venues on more than one occasion this year. As I told the Globe and Mail after the announcement was made, there are actually a lot of indications that the government is moving away from soccer at the moment, and making winter sports its No. 1 priority within the sports industry.
Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin become first Chinese players drafted for nine years, but both face an uphill battle to play in the NBA.
A year ago, ice hockey player Song Andong was touted as China’s next big sporting star after being drafted by the NHL’s New York Islanders, then swiftly promoted as one of the faces of China’s 2022 Winter Olympic Games bid campaign. This spring, it is the turn of two Chinese basketball players, Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin, who were drafted by the NBA’s Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies, respectively.
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…
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: