President Xi Jinping is arguably the most well-known sports fan in China. Discover some of his intiatives to encourage fitness and participation at home and to raise the nation’s sporting profile on the international stage.
Promoting mass sports
President Xi says fitness is the basis and guarantee for all people to live a healthy life and it plays an important part in China’s transition from a big country to a strong nation in sports. His proposal of promoting mass fitness was included in the work report of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
And under a national plan for developing mass fitness issued last year, China aims to have 435 million people, a third of its population, regularly doing physical exercise by 2020.
Spreading the Olympic spirit
The President has made relentless efforts to promote the development of the Olympic spirit.
During a visit to the Chinese delegation at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, he said that athletes’ success would not be measured only by the number of medals they win but also by how they demonstrate the Olympic spirit of constantly improving themselves and surpassing their limits.
He is convinced that sports can play a role in building China as a strong country. “Chinese people are closer to the goal of rejuvenating the nation than any time in history,” he said.
“The dream of each citizen as well as the dream of building a strong country through developing sports is closely related with the realisation of the Chinese dream.”
Mr Xi has contributed his share to helping Beijing win the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. During the bidding process, he sent a video message to the International Olympic Committee, saying: “Hosting the Winter Olympics will give the Chinese people a chance to promote the development of the Olympics and to spread the Olympic spirit.”
He said that hosting the Winter Olympics would help 300 million Chinese people to participate in winter sports, which would be a great boost to the Games.
No 1 sports fan
The President is a fan of a lot of many sports. He once told reporters that he likes swimming, boxing, tennis, volleyball, basketball and martial arts, as well as winter activities such as ice hockey and speed skating.
And of all sports, his favourite is football. At his high school, he was a member of its team.
In 2012, when vice-president, Mr Xi showed off some of his football skills at Croke Park stadium in Dublin during a state visit to Ireland. He has a photo of him kicking a ball in his office.
He also incorporates the spirit of football into his work. In a press conference before a meeting with Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation member leaders in October 2013, he used a football metaphor to highlight the significance of co-operation.
“Football is a team sport. Though the ability of each player is important, the quality of teamwork is what determines which team will win,” he said.
As the top political leader, he also led the drawing-up of a reform plan for the Chinese game, which proposes to make China a soccer power in Asia in 2030 and a world-class competitor by 2050.