Wisdom Sports announces ambitious plan to engage 12 million sports participants

Updated: 2015-11-20 22:15

By Sun Xiaochen(chinadaily.com.cn)

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Aiming to inspire greater participation in sports in China, Wisdom Sports Group, a major sports marketing and managing company, unveiled an ambitious multi-sport program targeting more than 12 million participants for 2016 on Thursday.

Featuring popular events such as marathons, cycling and basketball, Wisdom will organize and manage a total number of 5,240 sporting contests together with local sports bureaus and marketing partners across China next year, aimed at promoting exercise as the fifth basic life necessity after food, clothing and housing as well as transportation among the 12.6 million expected participants.

Among all the events from elite sports to grassroots level activities, the 35-race marathon series and 75 cycling series as well as the 3700-game China Basketball League for amateurs will be expected to attract soaring participation from January to December in as many as 31 provinces and municipalities next year.

Wisdom, a Hong Kong-listed company which built its name in China's sports management circles by successfully operating the Guangzhou Marathon since 2012, has set its sights on the huge potential sports market following the approval of a national plan to boost the sporting industry last year.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, issued a blueprint last October to grow the country's sports market by canceling administrative approval for commercial and mass sporting events to encourage more private companies and NGOs to operate and market events previously controlled by government departments and state-owned enterprises.

The total gross value of the sports industry was planned to reach 5 trillion yuan ($783.5 billion) by 2025 when it is expected to account for about 1 percent of GDP compared with 0.6 percent in 2012.

Ren Wen, chairwoman of Wisdom, said growing the population of regular sports participants is key to stimulating consumption in sport-related businesses to eventually achieve the goal.

"Only by promoting sports participation as a need in daily life among the huge population in China can we reach the point where the sports industry contributes greatly to economic growth in China," Ren said at the program announcing ceremony in Beijing on Thursday.

He Wenyi, a sports industry researcher at Peking University's Institute of Sports Science, echoed Ren, saying that the Chinese people need more accessible grassroots events to build the habit of sports participation.

"We've held enough elite international competitions for professional athletes in China but the number of events to involve ordinary sports fans in neighborhoods is still not enough, said He.

"The mega scale of events unveiled by Wisdom will help inspire more people to adopt sport as a way of life."

In addition to events jointly organized with local partners, Wisdom will also expand its own brand, the Season Run Series, to 16 different cities in 2016 from six this year to accommodate the public's growing passion for the 6-kilometer run designed not for athletic excellence but for fun.

The Season Run route in each host city will shower participants with technology that simulates the changes of the four seasons by producing artificial drizzles, heat and soft winds as well as light snow falls to entertain participants as they run through different sections of the course.

After reaching agreements with 14 provincial sports bureaus last year, Wisdom will also kick off its national fitness series next year to organize and market 1,400 mass fitness contests including roller skating, square dancing and cross-country orienteering in communities, parks and mountain resorts across the country.

"We believe every participant will be able to find an event that fits his or her needs no matter what their age or interests in our calendar,"said Song Hongfei, general manager of event operations at Wisdom.