By Chen Chenxi, Fan Jiayuan, People’s Daily
China’s goal of engaging 300 million people in winter sports has become a reality, according to a recent report.
About 346 million Chinese people have participated in winter sports activities since Beijing won the bid to host the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2015, accounting for 24.56 percent of China’s total population, said the report, which is based on a survey that the General Administration of Sport of China (GAS) entrusted to China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Among the 346 million Chinese people who have participated in winter sports activities, 300 million are aged 18 and above, and the rest are under the age of 18.
About 37.27 percent of China’s total population aged between 18 and 30 engaged in ice and snow sports, the most active in these sports among all age groups, pointed out the report.
Among respondents who have participated in ice and snow sports since 2015, 70.35 percent mainly want to have fun and enjoy themselves and 15.78 percent hope to keep fit and become stronger through the exercise.
The realization of the goal of involving 300 million people in ice and snow sports ahead of schedule is attributed to proper top-level policy design, said Wang Yuxiong, director of the sports economy research institute under the Central University of Finance and Economics in China, adding that the central and local governments in China released many policy documents to promote the development of ice and snow sports.
Meanwhile, government documents and development plans related to sports consumption, sports industry, national fitness program, youth sports and competitive sports all placed ice and snow sports at a crucial position, Wang noted.
Under the guidance of the government, the public’s awareness of ice and snow exercise continues to grow. The report suggested that 92.64 percent of the respondents who have participated in ice and snow sports since 2015 did so of their own accord.
China’s National Public Ice and Snow Season, which was initiated in 2014, becomes an annual gala for popularizing winter sports. Thirty-one Chinese provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have joined the National Public Ice and Snow Season, compared with merely 10 when the event was first held in 2014.
The number of participants in the National Public Ice and Snow Season rose from more than ten million to nearly 100 million during the 2020-2021 snow season, with the number of relevant activities totaling nearly 1,200.
The Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games have ushered in a new chapter for China’s ice and snow sports. Residents in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities all participated in winter sports activities more or less, and 12 provincial-level regions saw the number of participants in winter sports account for over 30 percent of their populations, according to the report.
Newly-built and renovated indoor ice rinks and skiing centers have made winter sports available in all seasons and turned them into an emerging lifestyle.
Data from the GAS show that by the beginning of 2021, China had built 654 standard skating rinks and 803 indoor and outdoor ski resorts, an increase of 317 percent and 41 percent, respectively, from 2015.
With continuous advances in technologies, winter sports become less restricted by time and space.
By adopting technologies to cultivate winter sports in the non-snow season, regions across China have formed organization models for regular winter sports activities that suits all seasons and brought about a new upsurge in participation in ice and snow sports. Winter sports have turned from niche sports merely for winter to leisure-oriented exercise activities suitable for all seasons.
The realization of the goal of involving 300 million people in winter sports has not only made ice and snow sports, which used to be participated only by a small number of people, developed in certain regions, and highly dependent on winter, more popular and available in different parts of the country and all seasons, enhanced people’s sense of gain and happiness, and contributed China’s experience and solutions to innovative development of world winter sports.
The Beijing 2022 has helped drive 300 million people to participate in winter sports, which marks a milestone in the development of global ice and snow sports and bears great significance for stimulating new consumption and economic growth, Wang pointed out.
The ice and snow sports market is gradually expanding in China, attracting wide attention from the world. As ice and snow sports take roots and blossom in China, their value extends far beyond sports.
As 300 million Chinese become familiar with sports on ice and snow, the Beijing 2022 will become a dividing line in the history of world ice and snow sports as well as a milestone in the development of world ice and snow sports, said Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).