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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 12th

Hello Industry Friends, here is the very latest news and insights from China. 📰 Headlines: ATP hails new era for tennis, China looks to defend Sudirman Cup, Yan Xiaonan eyes Zhang Weili, Beijing 2022 reports $50.5m surplus, IOC President Bach meets Chinese Premier, Eileen Gu wins Laureus award, China Media Group signs Paris 2024 deal, Zhang set for Joyce boxing rematch, 🎙️ In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Owen Leed Commercial & Communications Director, Badminton World Federation (BWF), about returning to China, partnering with Ganten, working with Migu, the future of BWF in China, and working with Chinese athletes on social.


🗞️ Top Industry News ATP Hails 'New Era' for Chinese Tennis at Rolex Shanghai Masters Launch ATP has hailed a "new era" for Chinese tennis as they relaunched the Shanghai Masters after three consecutive years of cancellations. The flagship event of the men's game in APAC was stopped by China's strict covid measures over the past few years. Read more on AFP (English) and Tencent (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: The two-week tournament at the revamped and upgraded Qizhong Tennis Center in Shanghai is set to be the most impressive tennis event ever to be held in China. Roger Federer returning as an icon, the world’s top players competing with China’s young stars, and the rejuvenated energy from fans following years of no live sport - the perfect storm for a memorable fortnight of tennis.


China Aims at Defending Sudirman Cup, Says Chinese Badminton Head Chinese Badminton Association President Zhang Jun said Team China's only goal in the upcoming Sudirman Cup is to defend their title. There will be 16 teams competing in the 2023 Sudirman Cup, which will kick off in Suzhou on May 14 and run till May 21. Read more on CGTN (English) and The Paper (Chinese)


China's Warriors On Course for UFC Showdown For the first time in history, the world's premier mixed martial arts promotion could be about to witness an all-Chinese world-title fight. Following her first-round knockout over Jessica Andrade, Yan Xiaonan has punched her way back into title contention in the UFC's strawweight class, setting herself on a possible course to face Zhang Weili. Read more on China Daily (English) and Xinhua (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: For years, Zhang Weili has been the leading female MMA athlete in China. But now there’s another star making her way through the ranks. Yan Xiaonan’s disposal of former champion Jéssica Andrade proves she’s got what it takes to compete with the best. A China derby would be huge for the UFC in China, a region the organisation continues to grow and develop in. Beijing 2022 Reports $50.5m Surplus from Winter Olympics The Beijing 2022 Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games recorded a $50.5m surplus from its staging of last year’s events. BOCOG’s financial report was released during a five-day visit to China by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Beijing Daily (Chinese) IOC President Bach Meets China’s Premier Li Qiang The IOC President was accompanied by the IOC Members in China, Yu Zaiqing, Li Lingwei and Zhang Hong. The two leaders discussed the great success and the legacy of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. President Bach thanked the Chinese government for its support to hold the Games amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more on Olympics (English) and CNR News (Chinese) Eileen Gu Wins Laureus Award The Double-Olympic gold medalist was crowned Action Sportsperson of The Year at Laureus World Sports Awards. Gu had been nominated in a six-person list alongside US snowboarder Chloe Kim, Brazilian skateboarder Rayssa Leal, and surfers Filipe Toledo, Justine Dupont and Stephanie Gilmore. The 19-year-old Gu said it was “a huge honour to be able to win the award”. Read more on SCMP (English) and The Paper (Chinese) China Media Group Signs Deal to Cover Paris 2024 Sports for OBS The state-owned China Media Group (CMG) have formally confirmed that they will work with Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) providing coverage for the international signal, known as the "World Feed" of the Paris 2024 Games. CMG have been asked to provide coverage of badminton, gymnastics, sport climbing and table tennis during the Games. Read more on Inside The Games (English) and Wenhui Daily (Chinese) Asian Champions China Ready to Face World Cup Pressure, Says Captain China won their first title in 16 years when they beat South Korea in the Women's Asian Cup final in 2022 and captain Wang Shanshan said they must now cope with the pressure of being regional champions at the World Cup. Read more on Reuters (English) Joyce Set for Heavyweight Rematch with China's Zhang The British heavyweight boxer has activated his rematch clause with China's Zhilei Zhang as he looks to get back on the world title trail. Joyce's hopes of a bout with either Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk suffered a setback when the Londoner was stopped in the sixth round by Zhang at the Copper Box Arena last month. Read more on YahooSports (English) and Sohu (Chinese) LinkedIn to Close Local Jobs App in China Having previously shut down its social networking features in China two years ago, the company announced on that it will be adjusting its business strategy in the country. LinkedIn has decided to discontinue InCareer, its local job application in China, effective August 9th. Read more on Pandaily (English) and Sohu (Chinese)


🤔 Opinion Xiaohongshu Decodes Urbancore Fashion Trend Through Sports Market in Shanghai The digital lifestyle platform dropped a sports market in Shanghai during the May Day holiday, featuring the emerging fashion trend Urbancore. A wide range of outdoor sports activities were led by participating brands and fashion KOLs, leveraging China’s ongoing fitness fever to enhance engagement. Read more on DAO (English) Navigating China’s Sportswear Fashion Industry – An Interview with John Gearing China’s sportswear fashion industry has been rapidly evolving in recent years, with a new generation of consumers seeking not only function but also style and individuality. The rise of Guochao, a movement that celebrates Chinese culture and design, has further fuelled the growth of local sportswear brands and created new opportunities for both domestic and foreign players in the market. Read more on DAO (English)


🎮 Esports China Esports Blast: April Over the past month, the esports industry in China has seen several key partnerships and developments related to League of Legends, the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI), and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. Among the top stories, Beijing Olympic Games Director Zhang Yimou announced that he would direct a League of Legends Pro League-related online drama; Moonton’s Mobile Legends: Bang Bang received game approval from the Chinese government, and British brand Durex signed multiple partnerships with China’s League of Legends esports. Read more on Esports Insider (English)


🎙️ From The Top 🗣️ Owen Leed Commercial & Communications Director, Badminton World Federation (BWF) 1. Badminton returns to China with the first BWF Major Championship in China in 3 years. What can we expect from the tournament and how excited are you, your partners, and the players? This is indeed a significant moment for badminton in China. Our first BWF Major Championship in China in three years. The pandemic years have not been easy for any of us, and the badminton community has certainly felt the absence of events in China. Our BWF Major Championships title sponsor TotalEnergies has a keen focus on the China market, and so this is a very important milestone event for them. The same can be said for HSBC, and of course, Laymau Moutai are very pleased to be able to activate at the event given their market is China. The tournament will be as exciting as ever with the world’s top 16 teams having arrived in Suzhou to contest the title of the World Mixed Team Championships. The Sudirman Cup is a test of a team’s strength across all categories, and only three teams have managed to win it since its inception in 1989. China will be looking for a record-extending 13th title. The only other teams to win the Sudirman Cup are Indonesia – in the inaugural year 1989 – and four-time winners Korea, who captured the title in 1991, 1993, 2003 and 2017. But, with the level of badminton improving in many countries, and several new faces standing atop the podium recently, that time might be now to crown a new champion. 2. BWF and Ganten will announce a partnership for BWF Major Championships on 15 May. How will you work with Ganten to bring their brand to life at the events? Ganten has been involved with our events in China previously and we are very pleased that they have progressed this relationship to become our official water partner for BWF Major Championships for the next four years. Ganten is passionate about their business and are active across other sports, so we are delighted to welcome them onboard. They will have high brand visibility at all BWF Major Championships through television exposure but also brand placement in all player areas and media environments as well as public areas. 3. BWF announced a new broadcasting deal with Migu. What can both sides offer each other to make this a stand-out broadcast partnership? Migu Sports, China Telecom’s video streaming platform, is a great addition to the broadcast relationships that we have in China. This new deal is for the TotalEnergies BWF Sudirman Cup 2023, the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2023, the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2023 and all HSBC BWF World Tour tournaments (Super 1000, Super 750 and Super 300) in 2023 starting from May. A longer-term deal from 2024 onwards is also being discussed. The rights are for non-exclusive IPTV, OTT, Internet and Mobile. What is great is that all produced live coverage matches of the above tournaments will be broadcast LIVE by Migu. Our offering to their audience will be ‘stunning badminton’ and their offering to us is an opportunity to go deeper into the ever-important China audience that we deliver to. 4. China has always been a key market for BWF. What can we expect in terms of events and activations from BWF in China in the coming years? With a full return to normal for sport in China, we can expect our host cities and all sponsors to be activating in a way that we will remember from before 2020 across all their platforms and live at the venues. BWF will be promoting all events strongly across all China platforms, building upon our already strong presence on our owned Weibo, WeChat, Douyin, and Kuaishou accounts. The thirst for badminton content is as rich as ever here, as seen by the trending popularity of Team China and their new wave of stars, and this bodes well for more brands in China to engage with the sport. We have launched a new live studio show on BWF Weibo in 2023 and we’re excited to see this new product grow and reach more fans in the coming months. We are also back in China next year in Chengdu for the TotalEnergies BWF Thomas and Uber Cup Finals 2024, and we look forward to many more elite-level tournaments being hosted here. It’s an exciting time for the sport as we begin the Race to Paris 2024 qualifying period this month, so fans can expect to see some truly amazing badminton action at the frequent HSBC World Tour stops in China during the remainder of this year and into next. 5. How has BWF been helping players in China develop their social personalities and channels? BWF has been running our Star Creation Programme for four years now with the aim of increasing the social media literacy of all players, so they are better equipped to promote themselves and the sport. The beauty of the programme has been the peer-to-peer learning that has eventuated, with many players sharing tips and best practices with each other. We’ve also seen a huge increase in bilingual communication amongst the playing group, with English now being spoken by more and more players -allowing them the potential to be truly global stars. This has in turn allowed players from different countries and teams to engage with each other, which has been fantastic for fan engagement. Players are also realising the benefits of connecting with fans outside of their own territory. We look forward to watching this space intently and offering ongoing assistance to players to help them build their profiles.


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