BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s National Games, which claim to be the largest multi-sports event in the world, should be reduced in size to prevent corruption and waste, according to a member of the advisory body to the country’s parliament.
The quadrennial games, first held in 1959 in Beijing when Communist China was isolated from most of the rest of the sporting world, remain the major way the government appraises the work of provincial sports authorities.
“Under the huge pressure (of being evaluated by the number of titles won), there is a danger the gold pursuit becomes twisted,” Zhao Long, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told Beijing News.
“Linking the gold medal count to a provincial government’s success leads to under-the-table deals,” he added.
The 11th version of the inter-provincial event attracted 15,133 athletes from 46 teams competing in 362 events in 33 sports in Jinan, Shandong Province last year.
The Games opened under the cloud of a scandal in the diving competition after one of the judges accused another of manipulating the panel to decide the winners before competition.
There were fewer positive dope tests than in previous Games, but they did include the winner of the women’s 100 metres, Wang Jing.
“There have been so many doping, match-fixing, judging and age-faking scandals,” Zhao said. “The general public is already deeply suspicious of the reputation of the National Games.”
Zhao suggested the Games be reduced in size by excluding highly professional sports — like football and basketball — winter sports and sports where less than a third of provinces have a team.
A member of the CPPCC delegation from Jiangsu, venue of the 2005 Games, Zhao said he thought hosting the event should be restricted to the six provinces who have already done it.
“Cities bidding to host the National Games is too wasteful,” he said. “The venues suffer from lack of use after the Games.”
Image: Jerry Lampen / Reuters
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