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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 17th June

Hello Industry Friends, here are the very latest news and insights from China. 📰 Headlines: Rolex Shanghai Masters set for BIG 2023, Zhang Weili lands title shot after UFC 275 victory, Manchester United launch on RED, Migu gets fit with Les Mills, CSL teams go deep on Kuaishou, Shanghai eyes digital fashion week, and All That Matters and SportsPro APAC return to Singapore, in person. 🗣 In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Michael A. Luévano, Tournament Director - Rolex Shanghai Masters, about an upgraded Rolex Shanghai Masters in 2023, staying positive and busy during Covid-19, key measures to be taken to put on an event in China, and working with Juss Sports Group.


🗞️ Top Industry News Rolex Shanghai Masters to Return Bigger & Better in 2023 As one of nine top-tier 1000 events on the ATP Tour, the Shanghai event is poised to make a strong return next year as it expands to a 12-day showpiece featuring 96 men in the singles main draw. The upgrade to become one of the "Super" Masters was recently announced as part of the ATP "One Vision" initiative, a long-term strategic plan designed to take tennis to new heights around the world from 2023. Read more on China Daily (English) and Xinhua (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: This could well be the next international sporting event to take place in China, and it’s still 16 months away. The postponement of the Hangzhou Asian Games and the AFC Asian Cup being moved from China have given little hope for any events to take place for the rest of this year and early next year. Zhang Weili Lands Title Shot After UFC 275 Epic A rematch of one of the greatest MMA fights, ever, saw China’s UFC superstar Zhang Weili knock out Joanna Jędrzejczyk to earn herself a shot at the title. Following two losses to Rose, Weili delighted her nation by winning in Singapore and setting up a title fight against Carla Esparza. Read more on Yahoo! (English) and Xinhua (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: UFC’s Singapore event was an absolute blockbuster and could not have gone any better for the global organsation, for MMA, and for Zhang Weili, who is now having her name spoken in the same breath as China greats Yao Ming and Li Na. UFC’s stock continues to rise in China, and hopefully, we’ll see an event back in the country in 2023. Manchester United Launch on Xiaohongshu The Premier League club officially announced its entry onto the lifestyle platform also known as RED, and opened an official account, bringing multi-dimensional localised content and activities to more Xiaohongshu users. The club has local Chinese staff working on the ground in Manchester to help deliver more exclusive original content for its Chinese fans. Read more on Ecosports (Chinese)

💡 Mailman Take: Still only a handful of sports organisations have launched on RED. The lifestyle platform offers a different audience compared to Weibo, Douyin, and Kuaishou, but follower growth on the RED platform is slow compared to the rest. As one of the most popular sports teams in China, plenty of eyes will be on Manchester United to see how they engage their large fan base.


Migu Gets Fit with Les Mills The International Fitness Masterclass, a collaboration between China Mobile's Migu and Les Mills China, will deliver a diverse, scientific, fun, fashionable, and healthy creative home exercise training with professional trainers. Chinese Olympics Xu Mengtao and Wang Xindi are helping to drive exposure by appearing in the first classes. Read more on Ecosports (Chinese) CSL Ramps Up Kuaishou Partnership to Bring Players Closer to Fans The popular Kuaishou platform now boasts 15 Chinese Super League (CSL) teams, all of which will provide content including match announcements to sharing training stories, as well as home team fan interaction to player live streaming. Read more on Ecosports (Chinese)


🎮 Esports China Esports Blast: May 2022 Last month saw three major esports tournaments take place across China’s most popular titles, including Dota 2, League of Legends, and CS:GO. These events, whilst taking place overseas, generated new levels of fan following, especially with Chinese team Royal Never Give Up winning its third Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) championship. Read more on Esports Insider (English)


🗞️ Other News Shanghai Fashion Week Expects Over 100M Viewers for Digital Schedule Designers such as Feng Chen Wang, Private Policy, and Leaf Xia will integrate VR into their digital showcases. Viewers will be able to access the front row and behind-the-scenes content on channels like WeChat, Weibo, and Bilibili, while international followers can tune in via YouTube and Instagram. Read more on Jing Daily (English)


🤔 Opinion Taobao “Metaverse Shopping” set to debut on China’s mid-year e-commerce battle ‘618’ Alibaba is striving to reform the online shopping experience with Taobao, and is set to unveil a “Metaverse Shopping” scenario at the ongoing ‘618’ Shopping Festival, the second-largest e-commerce shopping day in China that falls on June 18. Read more on DAO (English) and Sohu (Chinese)


🎫 Events All That Matters 2022 All That Matters is back at the start of the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix week 26-28 September 2022, as they bring the global Music, Sports, Gaming, Marketing and Digital Entertainment industries together with a lot of our new decentralised, crypto, NFT and Web3 friends under the theme of “All That METAS”. Read more here


SportsPro APAC 2022

From 14th – 15th September 2022, SportsPro APAC returns to Singapore, taking place at the iconic Marina Bay Sands. The event will explore how contrasting business strategies, innovative technologies, and behavioural adaptations are shaping the markets within the APAC region. Read more SportsPro


🎙️ From The Top 🗣 Michael A. Luévano, Tournament Director - Rolex Shanghai Masters 1. The Rolex Shanghai Masters recently announced an upgrade for 2023 in China. Can you explain what will be different next year and why this upgrade in China? The Upgraded Rolex Shanghai Masters that is set to begin in 2023 will have a 96 main draw singles event, which is up from a 56 draw, it will have over 9 million US dollars in prize money, and it will be spread over 12 days, including two weekends. The first week will be in the October National Holiday. The Juss Sports Group has been working non-stop, behind the scenes, since 2013 to upgrade the tournament. When the new ATP Chairman & CEO, Andrea Gaudenzi came on board in 2019 his "One Vision" strategic plan fit perfectly with our dream for the Rolex Shanghai Masters of becoming a "Super Masters" event. The importance of the upgrade is that The Rolex Shanghai Masters is the pillar of the ATP Tour in not only China but all of Asia Pacific. 2. How have you managed to keep operations going and morale high despite being unable to hold events due to COVID-19? The Juss Sports Group has over 1000 employees and owns seven International sports assets and five of Shanghai's most prominent sports venues. Like most industries, we have been massively impacted by the Covid-19 global pandemic over the last two and a half years. However, as a state-owned enterprise, we take a long-term view of all of our projects and assets. We know for a fact that this situation will end gradually and when it does we will be in a position to be up and running immediately. We have spent many months planning and replanning our projects based on the current situation here in Shanghai. We have kept our teams active and busy with training and research. Many of the general staff have been volunteering at the quarantine venues or within their local communities. Our senior staff were also very involved with the management of the emergency quarantine hospitals at our venues such as the Shanghai International Circuit, the Qizhong Tennis Center, and the Oriental Sports Center. This has helped keep morale high and given our staff a strong sense of purpose and giving back to the community at large. I should also mention that we have also been busy with our client, Zhou Guanyu who the Juss Sports Group manages here in the China market, and the Shanghai Sharks, also owned by the Juss Sports Group. 3. Given all the difficulties surrounding China, what relevant measures will you have to take to ensure your tournament can happen smoothly next year, can we expect to see fans in the stadium? In 2021, the Rolex Shanghai was very close to being staged, it was very unfortunate that a sudden outbreak in Nanjing created a situation we were unable to ignore and had to cancel the event at the 11th hour. Given the current "dynamic" policy the Government has imposed it would be difficult to give an exact answer to this question. We are optimistic about the 2023 upgraded event being staged and will do all in our power to have full fan access while maintaining a safe environment for fans, players, and the city of Shanghai. 4. The AFC Asian Cup 2023 was recently announced as removed from China due to Covid-19 uncertainty. Based on your announcement, you’re confident the Shanghai Rolex Masters will take place next year, is this due to your strong relationship with the Shanghai Sports authorities? What else makes you confident this event can take place? The recent announcement of the Asian Cup (AC) relocation does not really impact the attitude or confidence regarding the Rolex Shanghai Masters 2023. The AC is a much larger logistical challenge spread out over 10 cities and with a large player and participation population requirement. To stage the event presents a massive challenge to maintain safety with so many inbound guests. The Rolex Shanghai Masters will have a much smaller footprint and can be managed with protocols that will not "hopefully" convince the authorities to grant us approval. Since you did mention the relationship with the Shanghai Sports authority, yes, it does help us, no secret there. The Juss Sports Group manages the city's most high-profile sports events, i.e. Rolex Shanghai Masters, and the Heineken Chinese Grand Prix Formula One, for example, these events profile the city of Shanghai and generate thousands of television and digital broadcast hours exported to over 150 countries. Our confidence in being able to stage comes from city-wide Government, fans and our stakeholder's support. 5. China currently has a number of hot prospects in tennis such as Jerry Shang and Zhang Qinwen – why do you think China is producing such a great new crop of talent? Yes, both of those players are showing what is possible when a different approach is taken to develop tennis talent in this country. I have been aligned with Chinese tennis since 1995, and I have seen so many young Chinese players come through the system. I have my personal opinions on player development, but that is not my role as an ATP Tournament Director to really get involved in that issue. All I can say is that the sport would explode here in China if we can realise another top-five player such as Li Na were to come onto the scene.


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