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  • Writer's pictureDenis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 2nd February

Hello Industry Friends, here is the very latest news and insights from China and the wider Asia region.

📰 Key Headlines: Volvo China Open returns to DP World Tour, Argentina confirms opponents for China trip, 1st MLB game for be hosted in South Korea, TCL announces NFL China partnership, Wanda Sports renews with Argentinian Football Association, Beckham shines in Asia tour, IOC to evaluate Wushu as Olympic sport, Goodyear eyes Chinese auto partners, and the inaugural Olympic Esports Games to take place no later than 2026.


🗞️ Key Industry News

Volvo China Open Returns to DP World Tour with $2.25m Prize Pool

The event will take place from May 2 to 5 at Hidden Grace Golf Club in Shenzhen. The prize pool is set to increase from $1.5m in 2023 to $2.25m this year, meaning the Volvo China Open will become the professional golf event with the highest total prize fund in the Chinese mainland in 2024. Read more on China Daily (English) and Sina (Chinese)

💡 Our Take: In China, golf is shifting from the eyeball economy to the experience economy for fans. Grassroots golf coaching and training have been presented as a flag of integration of sports and education in China in recent years, which has also cultivated a new generation of fans and players in the country.

Argentina Confirms Friendly Opponents For Chinese Trip

The World Cup champions will face Nigeria and Ivory Coast in March, the association has now confirmed, despite previous reports suggesting they would face hosts China and a ‘smaller’ European side. Read more on Forbes (English) and China News (Chinese)

💡 Our Take: Following the overwhelming success of the nation’s match last summer against Australia, Argentina just can’t wait to get back to China. But if we’re being honest, Messi stole the show, filled the stadium, and created a frenzy. If Messi doesn’t travel to China in March, it’s unlikely we’ll see the same level of excitement and tickets sold. 

1st MLB Season Game to be Hosted in South Korea Sells Out in 8 Minutes

The first 2024 Major League Baseball regular season game is scheduled to be played on March 20-21 in South Korea with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres opening up the season. Tickets for the event were sold out within the first eight minutes after the sale opened last Friday. Read more on The Korea Times (English)

💡 Our Take: With Coupang Play hosting the event, and two Korean players and fan favourite player Ohtani coming, it is not surprising to see strong fan interest and tickets selling out rapidly. As overseas sports are becoming more of an interest to companies and fans, we look forward to seeing the development of the sports culture in South Korea.

TCL Announces NFL China Partnership, Continues to Expand Global Sports IP Landscape After becoming the official TV partner of NFL North America, Chinese electronics company announced that it has become the partner of NFL China, and held the TCL+NFL "The Game of Guts" offline experience activity to activate the sports marketing rights in China. Read more on Ecosports (Chinese)


Wanda Sports Renews AFA Sponsorship Role in China

Wanda Sports Group has renewed an exclusive commercial agreement with the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) to broker sponsorship agreements in China until the end of 2024. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and NetEase (Chinese)

David Beckham Shines in ‘The Legend of Predator’A historic moment unfolded as global football legend David Beckham graced the highly anticipated "THE LEGEND OF PREDATOR" event in Thailand. Read more on TNA (English)

💡 Our Take: As an Adidas Global icon, Beckham delivered a concluding message for the young generation passionate about sports. He encouraged them to focus on activities they are intensely interested in, deriving pleasure from them, as commitment ultimately guides towards achievement.

MLB Agrees to International Partnership with Japan's Largest Travel Agency

JTB today announced a new multi-year international partnership with Major League Baseball (MLB). As part of the new multi-national business arrangement, JTB is an official sponsor of MLB’s WORLD TOUR and will offer exclusive international hospitality packages for the season-opening Seoul Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Read more on Financial Post (English)

💡 Our Take: JTB's collaboration with MLB for their WORLD TOUR is a testament to the evolving landscape of sports tourism. It highlights how integrating travel with major sports events can offer culturally diverse experiences to fans, setting a new standard for how sports can be a gateway to global exploration.

IOC to Evaluate Wushu as Olympic Sport

Wushu, also known as martial arts, has been included as a medal sport in the 2026 Dakar Youth Olympic Games, which is often regarded as a key indicator for the introduction of new sports into the Olympics. Read more on (English) and (Chinese)

Goodyear Eyes Partnerships with Chinese Auto Players

Fueled by an automobile production boom and green transformation in China, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co plans to partner with more Chinese automakers and passenger transportation platforms to maintain robust growth in the country. Read more on China Daily (English) and Sina (Chinese)


🎮 Esports

Inaugural Olympic Esports Games to Take Place No Later Than 2026

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said that the first Olympic edition of esports is to come out as early as next year. During the 141st IOC session in October last year, the IOC announced plans to create the Olympic Esports Games. Read more on Xinhua (English) and China News (Chinese)

The First-Ever Samsung Odyssey Cup Unites Gamers Across Southeast Asia

Samsung concluded its inaugural Odyssey Cup, an esports virtual tournament that united professional gamers, influencers, and the wider gaming community in the Southeast Asia region. Read more on Samsung (English)

China Greenlights 115 Games in January, Largest Batch in 18 Months

China approved 115 new video game titles in January 2024, marking the country's largest batch of approvals in 18 months. This increase in approvals follows the withdrawal of a regulatory proposal that caused a stir in the industry, leading to a decline in gaming stocks like Tencent and NetEase. Read more on Pocket Gamer (English) and (Chinese)


🤔 Opinion

Where is China’s Gaming Industry Headed Next?

China’s gaming industry finally returned to double-digit growth in December after two years of brutal regulatory crackdowns brought the sector to its knees. Over the year, we also saw the number of licensing approvals handed out to developers steadily return to its pre-crackdown rate, and commentators were cautiously optimistic. Read more on DAO (English)


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