We’re proud to introduce Gerry Harker, who will be taking over our weekly China Sports Column for Mark Dreyer. Onwards.
The 7th edition of the World Military Games, held in Wuhan (the first time all events were held in a single city), wrapped up on Sunday night. By all accounts, the games were held in fine spirits as military athletes from more than 109 countries around the world, including 67 Olympic and World champions, came together for a feast of sport — 27, to be exact — in the central Chinese city.
As expected, the Chinese team came out on top, securing a record total of 133 golds and seven new World Military records, with six coming in Military Pentathlon and one coming in — checks notes — lifesaving. While some of the events can look more like an adult’s obstacle course, most of the usual Olympic sports were represented, from track and field and boxing to volleyball and basketball. We’ve dug up a few highlights for you. Here’s the military pentathlon, which features a lot of jumping, climbing, and running in zigzags:
And here’s the naval pentathlon, with its five events of obstacle course, life-saving swimming, utility swimming, seamanship, and amphibious cross-country:
Or you can watch the two-and-a-half-hour opening ceremony here, via Xinhua.
Unfortunately for the games, there was quite a disparity between the top-ranked nations, Russia and China, and many of the other nations, most notably the United States. The Chinese and Russian teams boasted a number of Olympic athletes in their ranks, while the U.S. team consisted mainly of amateurs. But this is not to take away from the athletes from China and Russia, which operate different pathways for athletes to make it to the Olympic level and don’t have the benefit of a college system for athletes.
Amusingly, China’s orienteering team had its gold medal chalked off as the team was accused of “extensive cheating” by the International Orienteering Federation (IOF). The IOF found that the Chinese team had been helped on its way by spectators and also used a series of illegal course markings known only to them. Competitors had been expected to complete the cross-country race using only a map and compass.
FIFA happy to put soccer and commercial interests ahead of politics
Soccer’s international governing body, FIFA, unanimously awarded China the right to host the World Club World Cup in 2021. The expanded club tournament will replace the Confederations Cup, the traditional international warm-up tournament for the World Cup hosts. It is set to feature 24 of the best teams from all of the various Confederations around the world. Of course, the human rights review that was introduced into the World Cup bidding process following criticism of the decision to award the tournament to Russia and Qatar has been swept under the rug. And besides, the situations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang will be long resolved by 2021, right?
The awarding of the rights to this new look, global soccer tournament to China looks like another step on the path to an eventual China-hosted World Cup.
Jeremy Lin set to make his CBA league debut for Beijing Ducks
Undoubtedly, the biggest story heading into the new CBA season is the arrival of former NBA star Jeremy Lin at the Beijing Ducks. His 40-point preseason debut for the Ducks against the Zhejiang Golden Bulls has raised the anticipation for his first official game this Sunday in Tianjin against the Tianjin Pioneers. Ducks fans will be hoping that Lin, who won the NBA championship last season with the Toronto Raptors, will be able to power their team to a deep playoff run, after the Ducks bowed out in the quarterfinals last year.
Jeremy Lin has 40 points and 6 rebounds in his debut for Beijing Shougang, yet not enough for his team to overcome Zhejiang in a pre-season game pic.twitter.com/2plpWdXWdN
— Xinhua Sports (@XHSports) October 11, 2019
Kunlun Red Star ice hockey finally make their return to the capital
China’s top hockey side recently made their return to the capital after inexplicably starting their season in Shenzhen. The team, playing in Russia’s top league, the KHL, started their season in Shenzhen, and reports from inside the camp suggest that the players were unhappy with their set-up in the southern city, as they were forced to train on terrible ice miles away from the city center (the UFC was in Shenzhen and occupying the arena they should have played in).
Playing in Beijing’s far west in the Chinese Olympic winter sports base in Shougang, the team will be spearheading China’s Olympic ice hockey efforts with several Canadian- and American-born Chinese players leading the charge. After an inconsistent start, results have started to improve in recent weeks — the team is currently on a five-game winning streak, and sit at 9-10 on the season — with captain Brandon Yip and youngster Tyler Wong — currently the team’s top scorer — leading the way.
The China Sports Column runs every week on SupChina.