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Olympics to Boost Popularization of Sailing
青岛帆船网 2010-01-31 16:21:44 

   Unlike European countries, sailing is not quite popular in China. Whether the forthcoming Olympic regatta will boost the sport before the Games and even thereafter remains a concern.

    Hou Kai, who works in Qingdao, described the sport as attractive.

    "With waves surging and wind brushing by, I really enjoy the feeling of sliding on the water," the 35-year-old said.

    Hou began to learn about sailing last summer and since then he has been indulged in it. Every weekend, he usually spends half a day on it.

    However, Hou is only one of the few who can take part in the sport as most Chinese people, influenced by Chinese traditional culture and life styles, find the sea awesome and are unwilling to learn more about the sport.

    Besides a lack of sailing knowledge, shortage of facilities is another reason to make the sport unpopular.

    "The history of sailing in China is only 26 years, far shorter than that in European countries," Li Quanhai, vice director of China's Water Sports governing body, said. "We have only fifteen provinces which are involved in the sport and registered sailors are fewer than two thousand. And even those coastal cities don't have professional docks. All this makes it hard for us to make the sport popular.

    "Though we have achieved good results at some international regattas, compared with European and American countries, our sailing culture is not that rich," he added.

    In addition, in China's sailing clubs with fairly good conditions, you have to spend 240 yuan (30 US dollars) one time on average, which proves a great burden to common Chinese families.

    After the successful bid of the 2008 Olympic Games, Olympic regatta host city Qingdao and even China are greeting a rare opportunity.

    The 2006 Qingdao International Regatta, first test event for Olympic regatta, has played a role in attracting more Chinese common people and making them more acquainted with the charm of the sport.

    In order to realize the objective, the regatta organizers not only arranged four competition areas along the coastal line, which made it easy for the spectators to watch the competition and won the praise of David Kellett, vice president of International Sailing Federation (ISAF). Ever since Aug. 21, the first competition day, there are approximately five thousand people watching on spot.

    "Though I am a Qingdao resident, I know nothing about sailing. But now, I find the sport spectacular," said Guan Ning. He is now fascinated with sailing.

    More than 300 journalists have come to report the regatta, which is a great boost to the sport.

    "One of the post-Olympic effects, I think, is that not only sailing but also yachting will have tremendous development, not only in Qingdao, but in the other coastal cities," said Xia Geng, mayor of Qingdao.

    "Thanks to some sponsors, we can provide sailing equipment for young people. So far, there are more and more young people in Qingdao, who attend sailing summer camps and learn more about the sport," he added.

    Lin Zhiwei, vice president of Qingdao Sports Federation, noted: "We have launched the plan that develops sailing in schools of Qingdao, and we aim to make over eighty percent of Qingdao students knowledgable about Olympic regatta and sailing, and to have ten percent of Qingdao students who are often engaged in sailing."

    "Sailing has been springing up in China, and we have sailing clubs in many Chinese coastal cities like Dalian and Sanya," Li Quanhai said. "I think as the Olympic regatta is approaching, sailing will achieve a great and sustainable development."

    Other than Chinese people, some international personage also expressed their good wishes.

    Kellett hoped that the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center could be China's sailing base, while Alex Gilady, member of International Olympic Committee said: "You have top sailors and even some of them are world champions. If they win medals here. Maybe there will be many more people who are attracted by the sport."


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