Zhang Shuguang. The Development of Community Sports Facilities in China: Effects of the Olympic Games

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1 Zhang Shuguang The Development of Community Sports Facilities in China: Effects of the Olympic Games Zhang Shuguang China Sport Information Center, Beijing, P.R. China With the influences of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2012 London Olympic Games, Chinese, sports researchers, sports administrators and sports management departments have been studying how to develop community sports facilities in China. Learning from the experiences of the London organizing committee about handling Olympic legacies, the Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau and the Tianjin Municipal Sports Bureau have made development plans for community sports facilities according to their cities own characteristics. For example, the Tianjin Municipal Sports Bureau has established the Tianjin Public Sports Facilities Plan ( ). Tianjin will establish the public sports facility network at the regional, municipal, district, town, and community levels. The Tianjin urban planning department is responsible for solving land problems, while all levels of governments are in charge of constructing sports facilities. The Tianjin sports administrative departments focus on increasing sports participation by managing these sports facilities. Over the past three years, Tianjin has constructed more than 90 Sports Parks, renewed over 4500 Fitness Parks, and constructed sports facilities for 60 County Sports and Entertainment Service Centers. The Olympic Games not only increase mass sports participation, but also make sports administrative departments understand the role of sports facilities in the development of sports for all programs. At present, sports administrators and sports management departments in China are implementing the National Fitness Program, which has prioritized the construction of more sports facilities near the communities. This study analyzes the effects of the Olympic Games on the development of community sports facilities in China. The paper will consist of a literature review and a comparative analysis. The Olympic Games not only increase mass sports participation, but also make sports administrative departments understand the role of sports facilities in the development of sport for all. For example, in 2003, the Beijing Municipality launched the Beijing Olympic Movement Plan. In 2004, the city held sport for all activities, including the National Fitness Festival, the Publicity Week on National Fitness, and the Olympic Culture Festival, in which millions of people took part, including workers, students, women, elderly people and rural participants. In 2006, the Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau constructed 200 National Fitness facilities. According to a 2011 survey conducted by the Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau, the percentage of Beijing citizens who often took part in physical exercises increased from 11.5% in 1995 to 49.1% in Furthermore, 87% of Beijing citizens put health in the first place in Presently, sports administrators and sports management departments in China are implement- 119

2 The Development of Community Sports Facilities in China 120 ing the National Fitness Program and the main part of their work is to construct more sports facilities near communities. Background Over the last three decades, Chinese sports researchers, sports administrators and sports management departments have studied the construction and operation of sports facilities. According to the Report on the Operation Mode and Economic Efficiency of Sports Facilities, released in 2012 by General Administration of Sport of China, 96.6% of Chinese sports facilities do no generate revenue. 2 There are different ideas about how to construct and operate sports facilities. To date, no ideal way to operate sports facilities has been found. High performance-oriented sports policies continue to influence the development of sports and the investment of resources. For some, sport for all (or recreational sport participation) appears contrary to competitive sport, and it includes non-olympic sport. Some sports administrators continue to pay more attention to competitive sports, and consequently, less is invested in sport for all programs. For example, social organizations are less involved in the construction and operation of sports facilities. However, after learning from the experiences of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) and the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) regarding Olympic legacies, it is argued that Chinese sports researchers, sports administrators and sports management departments have made significant progress in the development of community sports facilities in China. Since the 1980s, Chinese sports researchers, sports administrators and sports management departments have been studying how to develop community sports facilities in China. The Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau and the Tianjin Municipal Sports Bureau learned from the experiences of BOCOG and LOCOG, have made development plans for community sports facilities according to the characteristics of the respective cities. For example, the Tianjin Municipal Sports Bureau has developed the Tianjin Public Sports Facilities Plan ( ), which aims to establish a public sports facility network at the regional, municipal, district, town, and community levels. The Tianjin urban planning department is responsible for solving zoning problems, while various levels of governments are in charge of constructing sports facilities. Tianjin sports administrative departments focus on increasing sports participation by managing these sports facilities. Over the past three years, Tianjin has constructed more than 90 Sports Parks, renewed over 4500 Fitness Parks, and constructed sports facilities for 60 County Sports and Entertainment Service Centers. 3 Problems for Developing Sports Facilities in China The lack of scientific planning Due to the effects of the Beijing Olympic Games, there has been a significant participation increase in exercise programs in Chinese communities, parks and squares. Furthermore, according to a report by He Jingtang and Sun Yimin (School of Architecture, and Research Institute of Architecture Design, South China University of Technology, respectively), many Chinese municipal administrators are building large sports venues as landmark projects. 4 They are so eager to gain political prestige that they continue to build sports venues without proper scientific planning, defined positions and clear construction plans. On one hand, people need more sports facilities. On the other hand, administrators make independent choices based on the scale of sports venues without proper parameters and design decisions in place. Duplicate facilities unhealthy competition hinder the sustainable development of sports facilities in China. For example, there are five large-scale sports venues (i.e. 20,000

3 The Development of Community Sports Facilities in China 121 seats, or more) in Guangzhou, including Tianhe Stadium (60,000 seats), Olympic Stadium (80,000 seats), Yuexiu Mountain Stadium (20,000 seats), Huangpu District Stadium (20,000 seats) and Guangzhou College Town Center Stadium (50,000 seats). Moreover, in Guangzhou College Town an area of less than 20 square kilometers - there are more than 20 stadiums and eight gymnasiums throughout the universities and colleges, not including Guangzhou College Town Center Stadium. The lack of scientific management In China, most sports venues belong to public institutions and schools (or colleges). These institutions do not pay attention to revenues as their operational costs come from government subsidies. 5 Poor management, inadequate marketization and overstaffing within these institutions have some sports administrators believing that restructuring management is the only way to solve such problems. Some sports management departments wish to increase revenues by holding cultural and recreational activities and commercial performances. Nevertheless, these individuals do not always realize how important scientific management teams are in the operation of sports venues. The lack of professionals with operational capabilities In China, most sports venues run deficits every year. Besides the lack of scientific management, the lack of professionals with operational capabilities is the main reason why they do not generate significant revenue. Take naming rights, for example few sports venues in China make full use of their naming rights. Those sports venues operated by colleges or schools seldom sell their naming rights. Sports venues such as Laoshan Velodrome are operated by the General Administration of Sport of China or local government departments. They are high performance-oriented and their operational costs are mainly funded by government subsidies. Consequently, few managers focus their attention on the marketing or naming rights. Single-source investments Municipal Chinese governments are the main investors in sports facilities. Over 80% of the investment of sports facilities comes from governments or public institutions. 6 Due to the lack of policy support, there is minimal private capital invested in the construction of sports facilities. Some sports administrators feel that if private capital is invested in the construction and operation of sports facilities, state owned property might be drained, as sports facilities remain state owned property. Moreover, the system of capital reward in Chinese sports facilities needs to be improved. Limited public benefits from sports facilities Sports venues that are operated by colleges or schools, police, army and sports administrators are seldom open to the public. According to the Fifth National Sports Facility Survey in China, 58.76% of the sports facilities are not open to the public, 14.46% are partly open to the public, and only 26.78% are fully open to the public. 7 The Positive Effects of Olympic Games on the Development of Community Sports Facilities in China The Beijing Olympic Games have not only improved Chinese participation in physical exercise, but have further facilitated the diffusion of Olympic culture and Olympic spirit in China. 8 The concept of culture-enriched Olympics helps sports administrators accept the people-oriented approach to sport, and the State Council of China further promulgates the National Fitness Program ( ) under this approach. One of the main goals of the National Fitness Program is to establish the public service

4 The Development of Community Sports Facilities in China 122 system of national fitness around cities and rural areas. According to the National Fitness Program, the total number of sports venues in China will reach over 1.2 million, and per-capita sports venue areas will exceed 1.5 square meters by There will be a sport venue equipped with sports and fitness facilities in every community or incorporated village, and there will be a National Fitness Center in more than 50% of cities and counties in China. 9 LOCOG s recent experiences around Olympic legacies have attracted the attention of Chinese sports researchers, sports administrators and sports management departments as they are trying to solve the above mentioned problems. Increased participation and investment At the 2014 Chinese Sports Marketing Forum, Mr. Wang Jun, Vice President of the Chinese Olympic Committee, revealed that 28.2% of China s 1.4 billion population regularly takes part in physical exercises. The number of sports participation increases annually, which has resulted in greater demands for the construction of sports facilities. By the end of 2012, the General Administration of Sport of China had invested 996 million RMB Yuan in building sports facilities in under-developed areas. Furthermore, China had invested billion RMB Yuan in constructing sports and fitness facilities for rural residents in 348,600 incorporated villages. 10 The improvement of sports concept The State Council of China s the Regulations on National Fitness came into effect in October 2009, illustrating that the state has paid more attention to sport for all initiatives. For example, according to the Regulations on National Fitness, colleges and schools are encouraged to open their sports facilities to the public. In China, 66% of all sports facilities belong to colleges and schools. Opening these sports facilities to the public will significantly relieve the pressure of building more sports facilities. Since 2006, the General Administration of Sport of China and Ministry of Education have collaborated in opening sports facilities in colleges and schools to the general public. At present, one third of those suitable colleges and schools have opened their sports facilities to the public. 11 More scientific planning policies At all levels, Chinese governments have gradually issued various sports facility development plans. For example, the Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau has published the Regulations on the Construction Fund for National Fitness Facilities and the Tianjin Municipal Sports Bureau has drawn up the Tianjin Public Sports Facilities Plan ( ). Tianjin will establish the public sports facility network at the regional, municipal, district, town, and community levels. The Tianjin urban planning department is responsible for solving land problems, while all levels of governments are in charge of constructing sports facilities. Tianjin sports administrative departments focus on increasing sports participation by managing these sports facilities. Over the past three years, Tianjin has constructed more than 90 Sports Parks, renewed over 4500 Fitness Parks, and constructed sports facilities for 60 County Sports and Entertainment Service Centers. 12 More investment of private capital In 2012, General Administration of Sport of China published a regulation initiative dubbed, Opinions about Encouraging and Leading the Investment of Private Capitals in Sports Industry. One of its clauses is to facilitate the investment of private capital into the construction and management of sports facilities. For instance, according to the Implementation Opinions about Accelerating the Development of Sports Industry, issued by the Changchun municipal government, private capitals

5 The Development of Community Sports Facilities in China 123 invested in the construction and management of sports facilities will receive land support and tax reliefs from the government. 13 The Negative Effects of Olympic Games on the Development of Community Sports Facilities in China Directing resources to large-scale sports venues After the Beijing Olympic Games, Guangzhou hosted the 2010 Asian Games and Shenzhen hosted the 2011 Summer Universiade. Many large-scale sports venues were constructed in these cities to meet the demands of the events. Moreover, some sports administrators expected to gain remarkable political prestige by constructing large-scale sports venues. As previously mentioned, for example, sport administrators hoped to gain such political prestige through the construction of large-scale sports venues (i.e. 20,000 seats, or more) in Guangzhou, including Tianhe Stadium (60,000 seats), Olympic Stadium (80,000 seats), Yuexiu Mountain Stadium (20,000 seats), Huangpu District Stadium (20,000 seats) and Guangzhou College Town Center Stadium (50,000 seats). Unevenly distributed benefits Compared with cities such as Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Guangzhou, there are not enough sports facilities in small cities and rural areas. As a result of hosting international events, sports resources are concentrated in the big cities. According to the 2013 Report on the Development of Public Sports Service in China, 69.4% of all Chinese sports facilities are located in the downtown core of the cities, 10.4% in the suburbs, and 20.2% in the rural areas. 14 Conclusions The Olympic Games certainly promoted the development of sport for all in China and made people rethink the concept of high performance-oriented development of sports venues. With more people participating in physical activity, 15 there are greater demands for sports facilities in China. Therefore, sports administrators and sports management departments in China have devised the National Fitness Program, increased investment in community sports facilities, improved concepts on developing sports venues, and have encouraged private investment in the construction and management of sports facilities. Although the development of sport facilities in China has been negatively impeded as a result of the Olympic influence, the Olympic Games have assisted Chinese people in considering the future development of sports facilities in China. Overall, the Beijing Olympic Games have done more good than harm. Endnotes 1 Press Conference on Beijing National Fitness Activities, Information Office of Beijing Municipality, last modified July 27, 2011, 2 Zhu Yi and Zhang Jing, Survey of the Status Quo of Beijing Olympic Venues, last modified September 18, 2012, 3 Liu Fengshan, Thought and Exploration on the Construction of the Plural Pattern of Sport for All, China Sports Daily, January 4, 2013, 6.

6 The Development of Community Sports Facilities in China Sun Yimin and He Jingtang, How Should Public Stadiums Be Constructed in Post-Olympic Period?, last modified August 21, 2008, 5 Zhu Yi and Zhang Jing, Operating Difficulties Faced by Olympic Venues Highlight the Weak Basis of Chinese Sports, Oriental Morning Post, September 18, 2012, 8. 6 The Fifth National Sports Facility Survey, General Administration of Sport of China, February 3, The Fifth National Sports Facility Survey. 8 Press Conference on Beijing National Fitness Activities. 9 National Fitness Program ( ), The State Council of China, February 15, Dai Jian. Report on the Development of Public Sports Service in China (2013) (Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press, 2014). 11 Wang Jing, The Working Meeting on Opening Schools or Colleges Sports Facilities to the Public, China Sports Daily, September 28, 2010, Liu Fengshan, Thought and Exploration on the Construction of the Plural Pattern of Sport for All, China Sports Daily, January 4, 2013, Implementation Opinions about Accelerating the Development of Sports Industry, Changchun Municipal Government, last modified January 3, 2014, 14 Dai Jian. 15 Press Conference on Beijing National Fitness Activities.

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