U.S. Olympic “boycott,” hockey showdown looming, and Chinese soccer with Tariq Panja and Nikki Wang


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On the show this week, a decision — finally — from the International Ice Hockey Federation: the Chinese men’s team will be playing in the Olympic tournament (00:56). But they’re facing the U.S. and Canada. Will the NHL All-Stars run up the score (2:13), and how are the Chinese players feeling about the prospect? Plus what’s going on with the Team China squad, which is currently playing in Russia for the Kunlun Red Star team? (4:58) Meanwhile, one NHL player has already pulled out from the Olympics over concerns about COVID-related restrictions. Will others follow? (6:21) Elsewhere, the White House announces that there won’t be an official U.S. delegation sent to the Olympics What impact, if any, will that have on the Games? (10:12)

Chinese football is in dire straits right now. But how did we get here and what comes next? Haig and Mark talked to Nikki Wang, formerly with Deloitte China as head of sports business, where she advised the Chinese Super League; and to Tariq Panja from The New York Times (13:04).

On the agenda: how Chinese soccer first got on the global football’s radar, with stories of astronomical sums of money (17:08), the 20-something Englishman who seemingly popped up in most Chinese football deals (20:18), signs of progress in Chinese soccer, and parallels to soccer around the world (24:37), global superstars playing with vastly inferior Chinese teammates (28:17), commercial ramifications of signing big names (30:42), the relationship Chinese clubs have with their fans (32:47), whether anyone is still paying attention outside of China (35:13), Tariq’s tales of coming to China during the boom years (37:56), Nikki’s views from the inside of Chinese football (42:20), and why Chinese football fans are among the most resilient in the world (47:19).

See also:

Chinese soccer 2021: A postmortem