China's sports chief vows crackdown on corruption, targets resurgence of sports industry
Published: Mar 11, 2024 11:43 PM
An aerial view of Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium in East China’s Zhejiang Province Photo: VCG

An aerial view of Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium in East China’s Zhejiang Province Photo: VCG

China’s sports chief Gao Zhidan said Monday that efforts are underway to crack down on corruption and combat illegal gambling, as part of efforts to get the sports industry back on track.

Gao, head of the General Administration of Sport of China, said there is systemic and pervasive corruption within soccer, coupled with declining performances in other major sports.

"We are acutely aware of the gaps between the demands of the Party and the expectations of the people," Gao said on the sidelines of the second session of the 14th National People's Congress on Monday.

In three major sports – soccer, basketball and volleyball – only the national women’s basketball team has qualified for the Paris Olympics this year. All the men’s teams were eliminated early in the qualification rounds. 

However, Gao praised the successful hosting of major sporting events such as the Chengdu World University Games and the Hangzhou Asian Games in the past year, noting the increasing enthusiasm for sport among the public. 

The challenges include uneven development across different sports sectors and inadequate innovation capabilities, as well as issues within soccer such as corruption and declining performances. Gao emphasized the need to focus on these key areas. 

The authorities aim to develop China into an all-round sports powerhouse by 2035.

The country will continue to host major sports competitions, including the 2025 Asian Winter Games, 2027 World Athletics Championships and 2029 World Aquatics Championships. 

Over the past year, China's sports sector has witnessed sustained and healthy growth, with various mass sports activities such as National Fitness Day, and grassroots ice and snow activities. 

Grassroots sports events and activities have flourished, including village-level and community-based competitions like Village Super League and Village Basketball Association tournaments, serving the needs of the masses, Gao said. 

The construction of sports facilities has also seen rapid growth, with the per capita sports venue area reaching 2.89 square meters in 2023, an increase of 107 percent from 2019, according to Gao.