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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 16th June

Hello Industry Friends, here is the very latest news and insights from China. 📰 Headlines: IMG brings ATP event to Hong Kong, the latest village sports craze, Messi mania takes over, Asian Games enters home straight, a blog on MMA taking its seat at China’s top sporting table, is Nike’s China growth chapter coming to an end?, and all the latest from China’s esports industry.


🗞️ Top Industry News IMG Agrees to Five-year Deal for ATP Tour 250 Event in Hong Kong IMG reached an agreement with the Hong Kong, China Tennis Association (HKCTA) to bring an ATP Tour 250 event to the city from next year. The deal will begin in January and run until 2028. From December 31 to January 7, at Victoria Park Tennis Stadium, the hard-court event will offer prize money of more than $650k and feature a 28-player singles draw. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Sohu (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: A big win for Hong Kong, welcoming a high-level tennis tournament to a region renowned for staging top-quality sporting events. Tennis is back with a bang in mainland China this year, and with China’s top crop of emerging players, the ATP Tour 250 event will no doubt attract many local superstars to the court. Cun Chao Follows CunBA, Bringing Attention to Rural China Organised and played by locals, the amateur football tournament has been dubbed "Cun Chao'' by Chinese netizens, which translates to "Village Super League." Cun Chao has been attracting a lot of attention, both on and off the pitch. On Weibo, the hashtags and topics related to "Cun Chao'' have garnered over 200m views, and several videos of "Cun Chao" have received millions of likes on Douyin. Read more on Xinhua (English) and The Paper (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: Free to attend, the stands are often filled to capacity. According to local government statistics, the average attendance of Cun Chao matches has exceeded 10k, putting it on par with the CSL. With CunBA having recently announced a nationwide plan to roll out the sport, we expect to see Cun Chao, and likely even more iterations of 'Cun' sprawling out of multiple sports, providing more rural communities the opportunity to play and watch sports for free with limited outside influence.


Messi Mania Takes Over Lionel Messi and his World Cup-winning Argentina squad touched down in Beijing for a few days, culminating in a match against Australia. The result itself was of no importance. Chinese football fans lined the streets of Beijing for days, shouting and chanting whenever the Argentina bus made its way to and from the Workers’ Stadium. The chants of ‘Messi..Messi’ will be ringing across China’s capital for days to come. Read more on BBC (English) and Sohu (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: It’s hard to imagine any other sporting superstar having the same impact, both online and offline, as Messi has done in these last few days in China. His 7th trip to the country, his first as a World Cup winner, likely his last as a professional football player - chants of Messi were everywhere. Chinese fans love a star, they worship them, and they will do anything to get a glimpse of their heroes. This was also a sign that China can still attract the world’s best and biggest names. There was no reason for Argentina and Australia to play in Beijing, but they did, and it went down with everyone in China very well. Asian Games Enters Home Straight Chinese organisers said there had been "a lot of difficulties", but the Asian Games venues were ready for the pandemic-delayed competition, with 100 days to go. The Games in Hangzhou were due to take place in September 2022, but were postponed by a year because of China's strict Covid rules. Read more Yahoo! (English) and Tencent (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: The significance of this event feels slightly underplayed. China is about to welcome thousands of athletes and fans through its borders for its first major sporting event since the country opened up. If China is serious about hosting major, large-scale sporting events in the future, then it needs to prove, with the Asian Games, that it can do it to the very highest standard. If it doesn’t, then hosting the FIFA World Cup will seem a long way away. Su Bingtian Withdraws From 2023 Season China's top sprinter announced his withdrawal from the 2023 season on his social media account. In a statement, the current Asian men's 100m record holder disclosed that he decided to drop out of this year's World Athletics Championships and Hangzhou Asian Games and put an end to the 2023 season due to "physical reasons". Read more on China Daily (English) and Global Times (Chinese) OPPO Partners with Kaká at UCL Final OPPO invited its global brand ambassador to greet fans in person at the exclusive OPPO Hospitality Tent. Guests also had the opportunity to experience some of OPPO’s latest technologies first-hand and participate in a prize drawing. Read more on DAO (English) and Sohu (Chinese)


🤔 Opinion MMA is Taking a Seat at China’s Top Sporting Table When the curtain came down on the quarter-finals of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s 2023 Road To UFC tournament, fans and media streamed out of the Ultimate Fighting Championship Performance Institute in Shanghai having witnessed the next generation of Asia’s top mixed martial arts prospects. Mailman's Denis Green charts MMA's long road to success in China and the sport's next steps for growth. Read more on SportBusiness (English) Is Nike’s Growth Chapter in China Coming to a Close? Nike is still the player to beat in China. But its performance as of late has not been enough to wow investors, or to lift its share price. As such, all eyes will be on the athletic apparel leader when it posts its earnings on June 29. Read more on Jing Daily (English)


🎮 Esports China Esports Blast: May In May, the 2023 Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) concluded in London with two Chinese League of Legends Pro League (LPL) teams competing for the trophy at the grand final. Held at the Copper Box Arena, over 7.5k people in the arena and thousands of Chinese online fans witnessed JDG hoist their first MSI trophy. Read more on Esports Insider (English)

Clarks Sponsors League of Legends Pro League Team LNG The British shoe brand has signed a sponsorship deal with Chinese esports organisation LNG for its League of Legends Pro League (LPL) team, becoming its strategic partner. The Clarks logo will be featured on the left shoulder of the team jerseys. LNG and Clarks have business interests because they are both owned by Li-Ning Group, one of the biggest sportswear brands in China. Read more on The Esports Advocate (English) and Tencent (Chinese)


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