Passions may warm for winter sports

Updated: 2015-12-24 07:53

By Chen Xiangfeng(China Daily)

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China's sports minister believes the increasing passion for winter sports from people in western and southern areas will provide a big economic boost.

More than 300 million people are expected to take up winter sports in the coming years, spurred by the successful bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Passions may warm for winter sports

"It's not from thin air. The target is the result of years of investigation," Liu Peng said on Wednesday during a media briefing focused on developments in the National Fitness Program over the past five years.

"We are confident we'll realize the target, as more provinces outside the three in the northeast show interest in establishing winter sports facilities and promoting winter sports among ordinary people."

During the bidding process for the 2022 Winter Games, the Chinese government launched the "300 Million People Winter Sports Plan", an effort to introduce more young people to winter sports and build a base of athletes for future Olympics.

Doubts about the big number have been raised, however, as winter sports are limited in many areas and the number of participants is far below that of world powerhouses like Canada, Russia, the United States and Norway.

But Liu expressed confidence in the development trend.

"There were 30 million participants in the first nationwide winter sports festival last year. The number will be much bigger in the second edition," he said.

"We are also glad the winter sports influence is spreading west and south. In January, Xinjiang will host the 13th National Winter Sports Games - the first time the biggest domestic winter sports event will be held outside Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces."

Heilongjiang and Jilin are home to almost all the Chinese athletes who participated in past Winter Games.

That will change in the future, Liu said. "We can see teams from more provinces registering for the Winter Sports Games in Xinjiang."

About 34 percent of China's population had taken part in regular physical exercise in 2014 - nearly 6 percent higher than in 2007.