Head of former Winter Olympics delegation under probe, signaling anti-graft drive advancing to Olympic preparation
Published: Aug 27, 2023 09:26 PM
Ni Huizhong Photo: VCG

Ni Huizhong Photo: VCG

Chinese sport authorities announced on Saturday that the former secretary-general of China's delegation for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games is under investigation on suspicion of seriously violating Party discipline and laws. Ni Huizhong, 54, is among a number of high-profile sports figures facing scrutiny over graft this year.

Ni was also the Party chief and director of the National Winter Sports Administrative Center of the General Administration of Sport in 2017, according to media reports. Ni was an important figure in the preparations for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

According to insiders, there are signs that Ni's fall is related to the investigation of corruption in the field of Olympic preparation. This also means that in addition to anti-corruption efforts in soccer, anti-corruption cases in Olympic preparation are also advancing at the same time.

The announcement of Ni being probed was made by the disciplinary inspection and supervision team from the General Administration of Sport of China, which was sent by the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Commission of Supervision, amid a crackdown on graft in the sports sector. It noted that Ni's case is being handled by Henan provincial supervisory authorities.

Media has reported that China's top anti-graft watchdog said in April that a disciplinary inspection and supervision team was dispatched to the General Administration of Sport. The team said it will focus on outstanding problems of those senior officials reported by the public and will dig deeper to eradicate corruption in the field of sports and carry out deep-seated institutional reforms to provide a hefty guarantee for the construction of a strong sports nation.

According to the Chinese media outlet, since the beginning of this year, two officials in non-soccer positions related to the preparation for the Olympics have fallen.

One is Hu Guangyu, former deputy director of the Department of Political Science and Law of the State General Administration of Sports. On January 9, Hu was placed under investigation for suspected serious violations of discipline and law.

The second is Liu Aijie, former chairman of the country's rowing and canoeing associations. On April 4, he was  placed under investigation for suspected serious violations of discipline and law.

Media reports show that Hu and Liu had worked for the Winter Olympics preparation office. Some insiders said that the cases of Ni and Liu are connected.

Tang Renwu, dean of Beijing Normal University's School of Public Administration, said that there could be more corruption cases involving Winter Olympics personnel to be revealed in the near future. 

However, these will most likely be individual cases in specific areas, Tang told the Global Times on Sunday, explaining that "the Winter Olympics was a national-level major project, and the anti-corruption defense work was quite solid, so there should not be systemic corruption issues in such an important event." 

However, soccer matches that are held every year are a hotbed for breeding systemic corruption, Tang noted.

A day before Ni's probe was announced, Chongqing's discipline inspection authorities reported that Li Yaguang, a former vice president of the Chinese Basketball Association and head coach of the Chinese women's basketball team, had been expelled from the Party.

In addition to the above-mentioned sports figures, at least 12 officials in the sports sector who were investigated were related to soccer.

China's top public prosecutor said earlier this month that former national soccer coach Li Tie had been charged with corruption offenses, including bribery. Li, a one-time Premier League player, is one of several top soccer association officials to fall under graft probes since November.