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Outdoor sports get big facilities boost

Sun Xiaochen
Updated: Nov 9,2016 8:54 AM     China Daily

The nation’s top sports body has unveiled multiple plans to boost the outdoor sports industry through infrastructure and education as China pledges to build a healthier nation.

The General Administration of Sport has set its sights on boosting participation in such sports as hiking, mountaineering, canoeing and sailing.

The country is planning to build five national outdoor sports centers, 50 mountain trails with logistics facilities, 1,000 clubs for open-water sports including canoeing and sailing, and 2,000 aviation camps for sports such as paragliding and skydiving by 2020, according to plans released on Nov 8.

The combined gross value of production and consumption in outdoor sports, including spending on venues, equipment and training, is expected to reach 900 billion yuan ($133 billion) by 2020, officials forecast.

Li Yingchuan, assistant director of the administration, said goals are achievable given the surging public demand for fitness activities and leisure entertainment.

“It’s not groundless ambitions but realizable targets based on the current situation and our country’s national strategy to propel business and services concerning public health and fitness,” he said.

In October, the State Council issued a national guideline for the development of fitness and leisure sectors, calling for policy and financial support from all levels of government to upgrade facilities, services and education, especially in non-Olympic events.

Still, gaps in infrastructure, training expertise and safety protection remain a big challenge, officials said. China now has 200 open-water sports clubs in operation — 20 percent of the 2020 target — offering a limited range of events and relatively expensive services, said Han Jianguo, deputy director of the Water Sports Administrative Center.

“We will work with departments such as the Ministry of Transport to develop more facilities designated for water sports in the next five years,” he said.

China plans to develop 10 multifunctional water sports hubs along the Yangtze and Pearl river deltas and coastal regions of the Bohai and East China seas, he added.

For sports including hiking and cycling, the National Tourism Administration and the Mountaineering Administration of China aim to develop a series of well-facilitated routes adapted to local terrains such as a 500-kilometer hiking trail along the Taihang Mountains in eastern China and a high-altitude cycling course from Qinghai province to the Tibet autonomous region.

“However, more investment and resources should be allocated to staff training in sporting skills, security and first aid to go with the infrastructure upgrade,” said Li Zhixin, director of the mountaineering administration.