Chinese army downsizing sports teams and withdrawing from professional leagues

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/10/21 19:17:26

Wang Zhizhi (L), head coach of Bayi Rockets, instructs player Luo Kaiwen during a match between Bayi Rockets and Shanxi Loongs at the 2019-2020 Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, July 8, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhu Zheng)

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is downsizing and rearranging its sports teams, and withdrawing them from professional national leagues in order to enhance their capabilities to serve the military. 

The PLA has officially kicked off a reform of the army’s sports teams, it was announced at a deployment conference held by the military sports training center of the Central Military Commission (CMC) on Tuesday in Beijing, the PLA Daily reported. 

The PLA hopes to accelerate the transformation of military sports construction, enhance the teams’ abilities to serve the army, and support the development of its fighting power.

Highlighting their military attributes and changing direction of development, the Bayi teams will work toward military-oriented sport, instead of the previous field-oriented sport.

Competitive crowd-pleasing sports will be removed from the army’s sports agenda, but specialized project teams with military characteristics will be retained. 

The Bayi teams will no longer participate in professional sporting events nationwide, but will compete in the Military World Games and individual competitions of the International Military Sports Council, said the report.

With the continued downsizing of the PLA in the last few years, observers have seen non-combatant forces, generally the main recruitment pool for Bayi teams, as a priority for personnel reduction.

The team’s name “Bayi”, which means “Eight One”, refers to August 1, the date the PLA was founded in 1927. 

Bayi’s soccer team was dismantled in 2003. Earlier this month, its volleyball teams withdrew from the Chinese national league.

The CBA announced on Tuesday that Bayi’s basketball team, the Bayi Rockets, had withdrawn from China’s men’s and women’s professional basketball leagues, as required by the training management of the CMC, ending weeks of speculation over the team’s future. 

Global Times

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