Charitable legacy of Beijing Olympics continues to improve lives

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The 2020 Tokyo Olympics got underway on July 23, with athletes from across the globe competing for medals in their chosen competitions. In China, the country’s sports charities have been busy developing their own large-scale events, with public interest in sport currently high due to the success of China’s Olympic athletes.

Wang Jiyan, director of Phoenix TV’s Chinese Channel stressed that the 2008 Beijing Olympics were a watershed moment for sports charity works in China.

“Sports charity initiatives really took off before the Beijing Olympics, and the range and number of events have really grown since then, although participation has declined since 2008,” said Wang.

As of March 6, 2019, among the 7,021 foundations in China, only 74 are sports foundations, accounting for just one percent of the total.

Sports charity events are often extremely reliant on public sports facilities and resources, which can impact their resilience during uncertain times. During the past quarter, there has been a marked decrease in the number of major sports charity events –– a trend that can be attributed to the ongoing pandemic. In addition, commercial partners are more likely to be impacted by financial difficulties in the current economic climate. Restrictions on hosting in-person events have also had a negative impact.

At present, the most common type of sports charity event is one where participants do something to give back to society. For example, Yao Ming –– former basketball player, founder of the Yao Foundation, and chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association, has organized the Yao Foundation Hope Primary Basketball charity program since 2012. The program provides a range of services, including helping to train physical education teachers in underdeveloped regions. 

“We firmly believe that sports can help students to develop a range of skills. We understand sports and have some resources, so we’d like to use our advantages to help others,” commented Yao.

Another type of sports charity initiative aims to achieve certain goals through the hosting of sports events. For instance, since 2011, Shanghai United Foundation has organized an event named “the Trek of an Egg” each May, aiming to raise funds for children in need. Participants are asked to trek 50 kilometers within 12 hours and use creative means to raise funds online from acquaintances. Aside from buying eggs for rural children, the funds are also allocated for supporting children’s healthy diets, education, and social integration.

Sports stars also play an indispensable role in the execution of charity events. From 2017 to 2018, a total of 39,000 yuan ($6,033) was raised from the “Shougang Hero Power Pack” activity, which was coordinated by the China Red Cross Foundation and Shougang Sports for children with leukemia. The funds went toward the purchase of “power packs” for 200 hospitalized children. Two well-known basketball players from the Shougang Club, Zhao Xiaochuan and Zhang Songtao played fancy basketball for the children with the team’s mascot “Thunder Duck.”