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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Collins

Rio 2016: Could This Be China’s Year?

Updated: May 30, 2019

With Rio 2016 Olympics just 3 weeks away, let’s take a look at where China stands in preparation for the world’s most popular multi-sport event.

China has come a long way since its debut at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland where one athlete named Wu Chuanyu participated in swimming. This year will see 374 Chinese participants, slightly less than the previous Olympic event in London. Although this is only their 10th appearance at the Summer Olympics, people around the world will expect them to be bagging medals in various sporting activities.

Here’s a look at China’s medal count since 1984

This specific time frame (1984-2012) was most suitable to demonstrate China’s performance because they did not participate in the Olympics from 1956-1980. China performed the best as the host nation in 2008 with 51 gold medals, though still trailed behind USA in terms of total medal count. Over the years, however, their Olympic performance has improved exponentially, which is depicted by the steady increase in medal count from 1984 until 2012. China has dominated in many sports and will most likely bring home gold medals in table tennis, badminton, gymnastics and diving among others.

So what makes China so successful at the Olympics?

There are several factors that have contributed to China’s sporting phenomenon for the past couple of decades, one of which, is their transition to becoming an outward-oriented economy in the early 80’s. Apart from the huge investment and government funding in athletics programs, China’s large talent pool provides a much greater chance of winning medals than most other nations. During the years leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China’s state-planned “Project 119” came into action. This aim of this plan was to increase its medal haul by strengthening their sports which they had previously underperformed in the Olympics.

China’s success may not come as a surprise with 300,000 athletes committed to full-time training in sports camps and an additional 3,000 sports schools. However, it is important to point out that many of these gold medals won by China come from high-yield events such as gymnastics where a total of 18 gold medals can be awarded. Thus, a single athlete can win several gold medals, which China have generally done.

Rio 2016 launches its Weibo account

Rio 2016 has officially declared its social media presence on Weibo, the “Chinese Twitter”. This new partnership is a strategy for Rio 2016 to expand their online profile in China and engage with a potential 600 million users on Weibo. The digital engagement manager of Rio 2016, Benjamin Paz, announces:

“We are excited to work with Sina Weibo…We are looking forward to reaching so many people with the magic of the Olympic Games.”

Due to the time difference, as most of the Olympic events will be held during night-time in China, the Rio 2016 Weibo account will be an effective platform to keep the Chinese audience updated.

Will China’s Olympic domination continue?

Whether or not China will improve its medal record, it has certainly continued to prove its sports dominance across the globe. Though, increased problems faced by retiring athletes due to higher education standards in China have led to a greater focus on education programs within sports academies. Nevertheless, with the huge amount of time and money invested in athletics programs nationwide relative to other countries, China could soon become the #1 sports powerhouse in the world.

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