Sports development picking up speed in rural China

By Gao Ji, People’s Daily

A climbing competition was recently launched in a village in Xintangbian township, east China’s Zhejiang province, which not only attracted villagers but also dazzled those who returned to the village for the Chinese New Year.

High climbing walls, colorful holds, and complete protection measures were seen at the competition. Though the participants were not pros, it was still a great experience for them to join such a competition at home.

As China advances its national fitness program, sports are becoming more and more popular in the country’s rural areas.

China boasts a huge rural population. The improving living standard in the country is driving the demand for sports and culture among farmers.

Therefore, local authorities are working to improve the network of public fitness and sports facilities and increase the utilization of sports fields so as to better meet farmers’ demand.

According to a guideline on promoting high-quality sports development in rural areas between 2021 and 2025, China will build more sports and fitness facilities in over 5,000 townships and sub-districts. The document says that the per capita area for sports utilization in rural regions will be close to the national average by 2025.

Besides, the document encourages every capable administrative village or rural community to hold at least one sports or fitness competition each year, and supports farmers in organizing cultural and sports activities.

During the Chinese New Year holiday, a basketball championship kicked off in Lihe village, Pingliang, northwest China’s Gansu province. The championship, enjoying a long history in the village, was an exciting event for both athletes and spectators.

In addition, many townships in Pingliang hosted dragon dance, lion dance and other folk performances during the festival.

These activities have made people’s lifestyles healthier, enhanced their understanding of local culture, and strengthened their belongingness to their communities.

These activities were livestreamed and watched by many people online, which showcased the improving living standard and better sports utilization in rural areas.

The sports industry boasts a long industrial chain that covers catering, tourism, culture, education, exhibition, as well as sportswear and equipment sectors. The development of the industry will also boost rural development and thus contribute to rural vitalization.

In Babao village, Peixian county, Xuzhou, east China’s Jiangsu province, a rural soccer championship has been hosted for three years, attracting many soccer fans and even professional players.

In the Yugouliang village of Zhangjiakou, in north China’s Hebei province, yoga is gaining popularity and bringing new vitality to the village which is mostly inhabited by seniors.

In Xiqiao township, Foshan, south China’s Guangdong province, traditional Chinese sport lion dance has become a signature that demonstrates traditional Chinese culture to the world.

Today, China is paying increasingly higher attention to sports development in rural areas. It is constantly popularizing sports facilities and launching more and more sports programs.

It is believed that as rural sports development integrates with traditional festivals, local customs, sales of farm produce, and the culture and tourism sectors, rural development will embrace more opportunities.

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