Sports in China

China Travel Guide

Sports in China

Badminton

Because of its relative simplicity, inexpensive equipment, and accessibility to venues, Badminton is a very established and popular sport in China. It’s a popular recreational sport and amateur leagues exist across the country.

Baseball

Baseball in China first appeared in 1863 with the establishment of the Shanghai Baseball Club by American medical missionary Henry William Boone. However, in 1959 Mao Zedong disbanded all teams and outlawed baseball. After the Cultural Revolution ended, baseball activities restarted, and the China Baseball Association formed in 1974. However, it is not a popular sport and Chinese often sees it as a mere American curiosity due to its slow pace.

Basketball

Yao Ming - Teaching English in China

Yao Ming has popularized basketball and the National Basketball Association has an inspired public relations effort to expand the sport. Massive television audiences for basketball games during the 2008 Beijing Olympics (especially the China-US match on the men’s side) have led many to believe that basketball is not far from overthrowing table tennis and association football as the most played and watched sports in China, respectively. The Chinese Basketball Association was established in 1995 and in 2004 it expanded to 12 teams.

Football (soccer)

Football has been one of the most well supported sports in China ever since it was introduced in the 1900s. There is, in fact, written evidence that a game similar to soccer was first played in China around 50 BC, and China is recognized by FIFA as the founding nation of football. The current Chinese Football Association was founded in the People’s Republic of China after 1949. From 1994 to 2004, CFA established first professional football league, which was “Jia A”.

Football has always been one of the most popular amateur team sports for recreation in China, although in recent years its status has been rivaled by basketball. High schools often have football facilities, some of which are rented on weekends to local amateur teams to organize matches. It is also one of the most popular sports to watch on television, with large international tournaments such as the World Cup and the European Championships, as well as major European leagues receiving widespread coverage.

Table tennis (Ping Pong)

Table Tennis - ESL in China

Ping Pang Qiu is the official name for the sport of table tennis in China. Apart from the national representative team, the table tennis community in China continues to produce many world-class players, and this depth of skill allows the country to continue dominating recent world titles after a short break during the 1990s. The overwhelming dominance of China in the sport has triggered a series of rules changes in the International Table Tennis Federation and as part of the Olympics. Deng Yaping is regarded by many as one of the greatest table tennis player of all time. The sport played an important role in China’s international relations; in April 1972, the US table tennis team were invited to visit China, an event later called “Ping Pong Diplomacy”. Table tennis is the biggest amateur recreational sport in China today, with an estimated 300 million players.

Rugby Union

Rugby union is becoming a more popular sport in China than it previously has been. China became affiliated to the International Rugby Board in 1997 and is currently ranked 40th in the world, ahead of Madagascar and just behind Sweden. The national team failed to qualify for the 1999 Rugby World Cup and the 2007 Rugby World Cup. One segment of Chinese society where rugby is particularly popular is the military.

Wushu

Wushu - Teaching English in Asia

Wushu is both an exhibition and a full-contact sport derived from traditional Chinese martial arts. Modern wushu is composed of two disciplines: taolu (forms) and sanda (sparring). Taolu forms are similar to gymnastics and involve martial art patterns and maneuvers for which competitors are judged and given points according to specific rules. Sanda (sometimes called sanshou or Lei Tai) is a modern fighting method and sport influenced by traditional Chinese boxing. Sanda fighting competitions are often held alongside taolu or form competitions.

Wushu has become a truly international sport through the International Wushu Federation (IWUF), which holds the World Wushu Championships every two years.

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