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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 17th December

Hello Industry Friends, here are the very latest news and insights from China.

📰 Headlines: LA Rams opt for China, Zhou Guanyu finishes F2 on a high, Hangzhou Asian Games closes in on $600M sponsorship revenue, Jerry Shang offers bright tennis future for China, Beijing 2022 Playbook released, MMA’s diverse China fan base.

🗣 In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Zhou Guanyu, China’s first-ever Formula 1 racing driver, about who inspires him, the impact of Drive to Survive, what will equal success next season, a typical day in his life, and the future of the sport in Asia.


🗞️ Top Industry News LA Rams Opt for China The NFL announced that 18 teams have been granted access to 26 International Home Marketing Areas (HMA) across eight different countries. The LA Rams are the only team that will have China as an HMA starting in 2022. Read more on NFL (English) and Ecosports (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: The LA Rams have earned business rights in China, and for the first time, a NFL Club will be allowed to sell pre-season game rights, hold in-person fan events, and engage commercial partnerships in China. The LA Rams clearly have ambition to become a global sports brand by taking on Mexico, Australia and China. As the only club earning such rights at this time, the LA Rams are in great position to become China’s favorite NFL Club.

Zhou Guanyu Wins Final F2 Race, Takes 3rd Overall Ahead of his promotion to Formula 1 next season, the first-ever Chinese driver to be confirmed for F1, Zhou signed off his 2021 Formula 2 campaign in style, with a win and a second-place at the final round in Abu Dhabi to cement third place in the championship. Read more on SCMP (English) and Xinhua (Chinese)

Hangzhou Asian Games Sponsorship Revenue Close to $600M 89 sponsors have been signed for the event in total, with top-tier companies including Alibaba, Geely Auto, China Mobile, China Telecom and 361 Degrees. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and SportsMoney (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: As with China’s National Games earlier this year, which boasted 114 local sponsors and partners, next year’s Asian Games again sees national pride take place with all the big local companies coming out in support. Being an Asia event, we do expect to see more foreign brands represented, albeit at the risk of a potential backlash from their home nationals. Jerry Shang Crowned 2021 ITF World Champion The 16-year-old Endeavor China athlete became the first player from China to be crowned an ITF World Champion in any category. Read more on ITF (English) and Beijing Youth Daily (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: Tennis had a huge lift in China this summer when Emma Raducanu, whose mother is Chinese, won the US Open and thanked her fans in fluent Chinese. Jerry Shang represents China’s biggest hope as part of the sport’s next generation of future tennis stars.

Beijing Releases Olympics Playbook #2 The latest updates provide guidance on vaccinations, customs entry requirements, flight booking, testing, accommodation, transport, food & beverage, and much more. China will implement the most stringent of measures in what continues to be a zero-COVID-19 policy throughout the country. Read more on InsidetheGames (English) and Xinhua (Chinese) MLB China Brings Baseball to Relay Race As a strategic partner of China’s Hood to Coast relay race, MLB China assembled a team named MLB CUP for the race in Hainan. MLB’s 'My First Baseball Lesson' was held onsite in the MLB CUP Beach Baseball Park right next to the finish line, attracting over 1K participants and runners to experience baseball. Read more on China Daily (Chinese)

China’s Legion of MMA Fans Is Growing - and They’re a Diverse Bunch In Radii China’s ongoing Art of the Warrior series, Matthew Bossons looks at how MMA fans in China are not all male, and how Zhang Weili has helped inspire a new female generation.

Read more on Radii China (English) FC Bayern Signs Chinese Keeper Liu Shaoziyang The 18-year-old arrives at the FC Bayern Campus from partner club Wuhan Three Towns FC on a contract until summer, 2025. Read more on China Daily (English) and Xinhua (Chinese)

CBA Launches App The app includes new and improved information on all games as well as abundant basketball expertise from insiders. Most importantly, basketball fans can interact and participate in different basketball activities through the app. Read more on Ecosports (Chinese).


🎮 Esports

Uzi Comes out of Retirement, Aged 24 Having ended his professional career in June 2020 due to health concerns, he continued playing while streaming. Now, at just 24 years old, one of China’s most well-known esports stars has come out of retirement to join Bilibili Gaming. Read more on Esports GG (English) and (Chinese)


🤔 Opinion

5 Reasons Brands Can Win in China With Sports Stars

Luxury brands can develop original content as part of intriguing and engaging storytelling campaigns, enabling the viewer to immerse themselves in the emotions of a world-class athlete. China’s obsession with celebrities has primarily centered on models, actors, and singers. But sports celebrities are on the rise, and their less conspicuous influence might be a good option for brands if China’s crackdown on “fan culture” continues. Read more on Jing Daily (English)


🗞️ Other news

China Removes 106 Apps from App Stores Citing Privacy Violations China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has removed 106 apps from Chinese app stores including movie review app Douban, karaoke app Changba, and phone reseller Aihuishou, the regulator announced on Thursday, citing violations of privacy laws. Read more on SCMP (English) and Xinhua (Chinese)


📢 From The Top 🗣 Zhou Guanyu, China first-ever Formula 1 racing driver 1. Outside of F1, which global athlete inspires you, and why?

Actually, Kobe Bryant is the person who inspires me most outside of F1. As we know, on the court he was a legend, he had so many extraordinary performances, however, at the same time, he was also very hardworking and down-to-earth. His spirit, his passion and his dedication to the sport he loved is very touching and inspiring. That is also partly the reason why I chose 24 as my driver`s number, since it is also a chance to show my respect to this legend.

2. Shows like Drive to Survive have had a positive impact on growing the sport's audience outside of core fans. Do you think a localised show like this would have a similar impact in China?

I think Drive to Survive is a cool series, I do enjoy watching it. As the back scene and the story is always the core part that attracts people, this documentary really provides people with many elements outside of just racing itself, and that's one of the reasons why makes this series a success.

3. What would equal success for you in your first season in F1?

I think the first season for me is more about learning as fast as possible and as much as possible, I will see every opportunity as a way of learning and improving. So, I will work very hard and devote myself to working with my teammate and the whole team, and I do look forward to getting some nice results together with the team.

4. What does a typical day look like for you? Do you get much time to switch off?

We do not have a typical day, as a F1 driver, you will get lots of requests and things from different parties, not only about racing and training, but also with medias, commercials, marketing, PR etc, so really not too many chances to switch off, especially next year we will have 23 races and I will be the only rookie in the field. So I think a typical day during this winter time for me will be with training, sim work and some marketing or PR events, and I am fully prepared and really looking forward to it.

5. You have become the 3rd Asian driver on the grid, do you feel there is a change towards Asia for the future of this sport?

As the first Chinese racing driver in F1, it is a breakthrough for Chinese motorsport history for sure, I feel really proud not only because it is my long-time dream come true, but it is also exciting news for the whole Chinese motorsports industry and to all the Chinese fans. I do feel that it may inspire more of the young generation to join this sport, as for me, I do not have a pioneer to guide me and tell me what the correct road map is, so it was really hard for me to reach here.

But now, from my experience and route, it provides a clearer path, then it may become a better reference for more young drivers. However, it needs everyone in the industry to work together to really make a difference, so as a driver, I will keep trying my best to achieve more on the grid, and hope to bring more good news in the future that can make our country proud.


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