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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 19th May

Hello Industry Friends, here is the very latest news and insights from China. 📰 Headlines: WTT extends with Agricultural Bank of China, Wuxi to host FIBA 3x3, PICC signs Zhou Guanyu, Zhibo8 wins CFA Cup media rights, South Korean footballer detained in China, Alibaba in HK IPO talks, Burger King sponsors Weibo Gaming. 🎙️ In this week’s From The Top, we spoke with Alison Lee, EVP, International, ATP Tour, about the tournament returning to Shanghai, what fans and players can expect to experience, and the impact China’s young generations could have on the tournament and future of the sport in the country.


🗞️ Top Industry News Agricultural Bank of China Extends WTT Partnership World Table Tennis (WTT), the commercial and events arm of the International Table Tennis Federation, extended its sponsorship deal with the state-owned banking group, which will continue as an official WTT China partner for 2023, providing support to events such as the World Table Tennis Championships Finals currently taking place in Durban. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Sports-idea (Chinese)


Wuxi to Host FIBA 3×3 World Tour Masters The 2023 FIBA 3×3 World Tour Masters is set to take place in Wuxi, Jiangsu province from Nov 4 to 5. The highest-level competition of its kind, the World Tour is setting up 15 tournaments and one final around the world this year. After qualifiers and challenges, 14 shortlisted 3×3 basketball teams will be announced three months before the final. Read more on China Daily (English) and People's Daily (Chinese) PICC Signs Zhou Guanyu The insurance company - the People's Insurance Company of China (PICC) - announced the signing of China's first Formula One driver, Zhou Guanyu, who follows other Chinese sports stars Eileen Gu and Yang Qian by partnering with PICC. Read more on China Development Network (Chinese)


Zhibo8 Wins CFA Cup 2023 Media Rights The 2023/24 CFA Cup will kick off on May 17. A total of 64 teams will participate, including 16 teams each from the Chinese Super League, Chinese First Division, Chinese Second Division, and amateur teams. All matches will be available for free on the live-streaming platform Zhibo8. Read more on Sina (Chinese) South Korean Football Player Detained Over Suspected Bribery A South Korean citizen, whom South Korea's government identified as soccer player Son Jun-ho, is suspected of accepting bribes and has been detained by the public security department of Liaoning province, China's foreign ministry stated. Read more on Reuters (English) and Rmzxb (Chinese) Alibaba in Talks to Launch IPO in Hong Kong in 2024 Alibaba Group’s logistics unit, Cainiao, is rumoured to be in talks for an IPO launch in Hong Kong next year, making it the first of Alibaba’s six new business groups to start the process. Cainiao is reportedly looking to raise between $1-2bn for the listing. Read more on DAO (English) and Sohu (Chinese) How Douyin Sales Now Supersede Tmall in Some Categories The rise of social commerce has been more pronounced in some sectors than others. The fashion category now sees a higher merchandise value sold just on Douyin than Tmall. Douyin similarly outsells Tmall for bags and accessories. Personal care and cosmetics sales on Douyin are almost three-quarters of Tmall sales, with food and beverage around two-thirds. Read more on China Skinny (English)


🤔 Opinion Skateboard Culture, Made In China In recent years, brands have been taking cues from local communities - as all across the continent, it’s clear that grunge is back, and skate culture is on the rise - a trend that is especially evident in China. Read more on Jing Daily (English) Anta, Li-Ning, Xtep: China’s Sportswear Industry Races Ahead Goldman Sachs recently published a report detailing the predicted rise of the Chinese sports goods companies it tracks, forecasting that they will grow income between 15 to 21 percent this year. Powerhouses Anta Sports, Li-Ning, and Xtep all boast, especially good growth prospects, the report says. Read more on Jing Daily (English)


🎮 Esports Burger King Sponsors Weibo Gaming The two have created content on Chinese social media Weibo, the parent company of Weibo Gaming (WBG). WBG confirmed to The Esports Advocate that Burger King’s logo will not be featured on the team jerseys, but the brand will be on WBG’s sponsor list. Read more on TEA (English)


🎙️ From The Top

🗣️ Alison Lee, EVP, International, ATP Tour

1. What were the main reasons behind revamping the tournament to two weeks, more prize money, and an upgraded venue? A focus of ATP’s ‘OneVision’ Strategic Plan under Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi, was to enhance the Tour’s premium product by raising the importance of the ATP Masters 1000 tournaments. Increased draw sizes and prize money were part of this plan, providing more action for fans and more earning opportunities for players. Shanghai has always had ambitions to become a bigger ATP event and was well-suited to growing to a two-week event given its position as the flagship event of the Tour in Asia. Juss Event and Jiushi continually make upgrades to the QiZhong Tennis Centre, but knowing this upgrade was in the pipeline, they have stepped up to create what will be one of the world’s best sporting facilities. 2. What new experiences can fans and players expect ahead of the upgraded Rolex Shanghai Masters 2023? Players will be spoiled with multiple covered courts, possibly the world’s largest gymnasium at a tennis center, large and luxurious player areas such as locker rooms, dining and lounge areas, and treatment rooms. For players who have been to the tournament before, they will be very impressed with the upgrades and for the younger players coming to Shanghai and QiZhong for their first time, I think they will be blown away by the facilities. Fans will enjoy upgrades to the retail and hospitality areas as well as the new covered showcourt which is part of the Phase 3 plan, and of course, a lot more Chinese players will be competing in the singles, qualifying and doubles draws. 3. What impact do you expect China’s new generation of talent to have on the tournament, as well as on tennis in China in general? Now, with the Chinese players breaking through, Wu Yibing and Zhang Zhizhen will go straight through to the main draw of Shanghai, and maybe by the time October comes around, Bu Yunchaokete and Shang Juncheng could also have had enough good results to be ranked high enough to not need Wildcards. These players being directly accepted into the main draws combined with increased draw sizes (qualifying also) opens up a lot more spaces for Chinese players. The results of the top Chinese players seem to be creating a chain reaction amongst all the Chinese players believing in themselves and performing better and better each week. This makes it compelling for Chinese tennis fans to follow their players on the ATP Tour and other international tennis tournaments year-round, and especially exciting during the Rolex Shanghai Masters where there will be many Chinese players competing with the world’s best.


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