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Winter Olympics to boost popularity of snow sports in China

08/04/2015| 3:21:41 PM|

When China's per capita GDP approaches US$10,000, the country will usher in a golden period for the development of ice and snow sports, according to an official.

Beijing was selected in late July to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, becoming the first city to be awarded both the winter and summer Games. Hosting the games in Beijing is expected to offer vast commercial opportunities in a new winter sports market of more than 300 million people in northern China, Shanghai's China Business News reports.

Compared with Europe, South Korea and Japan, China trails behind in the development of ice and snow sports. The hosting of the Winter Olympics could inspire over 300 million people in the cold north of the country to take up winter sports, which would contribute significantly to the development of the international Olympic movement, according to Wang Hui, the head of a Beijing-based sports development company.

Public demand has become a basic condition for the development of any industry, according to Wang.

Although the scale of the Winter Olympics is smaller than the Summer Olympics, the number of athletes participating has risen to more than 5,000 in 2014 from 258 in 1924, and the winter games has become one of the most eye-catching sports events in the world.

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia were broadcast by a record of more than 300 TV channels and digital platforms, with 88,000 hours of coverage, according to data.

When a country's per capita GDP reaches US$5,000, people will usually have a demand for sporting activity, while as a country's per capita GDP reaches US$8,000, the sports industry will become a pillar of the economy, an industry expert said.

According to official data, China's per capita GDP exceeded US$5,000 in 2011 and rose to US$7,575 last year. When its per capita GDP approaches US$10,000, the country will usher in a golden period for the development of ice and snow sports, according to Wang.

In 2014, China had only 458 ski areas and only about 10 million skiers, or 1% of the population. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of skiers in China have grown by an annual 10% on average.

China is looking to the Olympics to validate its status as a winter sports center and wants to use the excitement of the Winter Games to get 300 million people out on the slopes in the next few years, according to the report.

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TAGS: Beijing | Winter Olympics | winter sports
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