China’s 14th National Games kicks off in Xi’an

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Passengers take a subway train featuring the 14th National Games in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi province, August 5, 2021. (Photo by Shen Li/People’s Daily Online)
Passengers take a subway train featuring the 14th National Games in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi province, August 5, 2021. (Photo by Shen Li/People’s Daily Online)

By Chen Chenxi, Wang Liang

China’s 14th National Games began in Xi’an, capital city of northwest China’s Shaanxi province, on Sept. 15, making Shaanxi the eighth province-level region in China to host the event. It is also the first time for the western regions of China to hold the country’s highest-level comprehensive sports event.

Since the country’s first National Games, which was held 62 years ago, the event has kept up with the times through continuous adjustments and reforms, pushing the country’s sports cause forward unceasingly.

Skateboarding, rock-climbing, surfing, and breakdance, which were added to the Tokyo 2020 and will be added to the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, have been included on the list of competition events during the 14th National Games of China.

A younger age group has been added to competition events such as diving and gymnastics, in which Chinese athletes have maintained a dominant position in the world, to help the country better select talents for Olympic and Paralympic Games.

On Sept. 12, a baseball team from the Tianjin University of Sport beat its counterpart from Shaanxi province and ranked 7th during the baseball final of the 14th National Games.

The fact that such a university sports team made an appearance at China’s National Games bears great significance. It is reported that athletes from the Beijing Sport University will enter taekwondo, triathlon, and other competitions during the 14th National Games.

Meanwhile, social clubs in China, including Vango Fencing Club, will race in fencing and cycling sports. Some athletes will participate in fencing, cycling, and swimming games as independent contestants.

The participation of universities and social clubs in the event will broaden China’s channel for discovering athletics talents and attract more people to competitive sports.

The 13th National Games introduced competitions for amateurs for the first time. This year’s event continues to open the door to non-professional sports enthusiasts. It has arranged four performance-type competition events, including public square dancing, radio calisthenics, Qigong, a system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation, and tai chi, a traditional Chinese physical exercise and stretching, allowing amateurs to upload videos of their performances and participate in the event online and receive their awards during an offline ceremony.

“The competition at the National Games is so much fiercer than at the Olympics,” said a contestant at the 14th National Games who also competed in the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Chinese athletes have had particularly intense competition in diving, shooting, and several other events. During the women’s 10-meter platform diving final, Quan Hongchan, a champion diver at the Tokyo 2020 Games, fought Chen Yuxi and Zhang Jiaqi, also champions at the Tokyo Olympics, and Ren Qian, winner at the Rio 2016 Games, and eventually won a narrow victory.

At the women’s 10-meter air pistol event, Shen Yiyao, 17, defeated several champions at the Olympic Games and took the championship.

The 13-day sports event in Shaanxi will generate spillover effects as it will undoubtedly stimulate the public’s enthusiasm for sports and leave a legacy that will benefit local people for a long time.

The over 50 competition venues for the event will spur a fitness rush among the public and push the development of the sports industry ahead.

Seen from above, Xi’an Olympic Sports Center Stadium, venue for the opening ceremony of the 14th National Games, looks like a giant pomegranate flower with 28 petals. Since it was put in operation in July 2020, it has become a landmark of Xi’an and popular with local residents.

It was carefully designed from the very beginning to meet the diversified needs of citizens for physical exercise after the 14th National Games. A basketball court, a football field, a playground for children, and other facilities have been built around the stadium so that citizens can enjoy themselves in sports.

Recently, Shaanxi issued a revised version of its regulations on encouraging the pursuit of fitness among all, which called on various types and levels of public stadiums to be opened to the public with small or even zero charges in batches and stressed taking into consideration the needs of underage youths, the elderly, and those with disabilities for fitness activities.

“A great gift from the 14th National Games is an increasing number of wonderful sports fields and facilities around us that charge merely a little.” a Xi’an citizen told People’s Daily.

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