Sports in China

sports in China
Updated 2022-09-17 21:09

Whether you are a fan of watching sports or enjoy an active lifestyle, China has everything one needs to keep fit and stay in tune with the latest games and competitions. China has a long sports history. Sports are more of a culture than a habit in this Asian country. Apart from traditional sports, which have been practiced for hundreds of years, like tai chi and kung fu, international sports, such as football, volleyball, basketball, and table tennis, have become very popular.

As an expat in China, you won't have trouble finding a group of people to play your favorite sport with or the facilities to do so. Most major cities in the country have specialized sports complexes, and modern residential areas often come with table tennis rooms, tennis courts, and even swimming pools in southern cities. To find like-minded people, check local expat or international forums and look for specialized sports clubs in your city.

International sports in China

Global sports are now part of Chinese culture. The Chinese, especially youngsters, are more likely to play football, volleyball, basketball, cricket, tennis, and table tennis, squash, and even practice weightlifting. These sports, as well as gymnastics, are taught at school as well as in sports clubs and practiced at a national and international level. Golf has been gaining popularity in recent years, mostly due to its prestigious status. The sport is often used for team-building for high-level management as well as negotiation grounds for business deals. The country's most famous golf club is Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, which was named 'the world's largest golf facility' by the Guinness World Records in 2004.

Note that China is one of the sportiest nations worldwide. Moreover, the country participates regularly in sports events such as the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, the Asian Football Cup, Universiades, Tennis Masters, the World Swimming Championship, etc.

Traditional sports in China

China is world famous for its traditional sports like martial arts and gymnastics. Tai chi chuan, fencing, shooting, archery, and judo are very appreciated by the Chinese. Moreover, in early mornings or late afternoons, you will often spot tai-chi Chuan disciples exercising in parks and city squares.

Square dancing is an interesting form of exercise in China, typically practiced by the older generation. You will see frequently see elderly women performing guided dance routines in city squares and next to residential buildings. In China, they are affectionately referred to as 'dancing grannies'.

Another favorite pastime in the country is mountain trekking: a form of exercise that involves going up and down mountains located in the cities or suburban areas. Note that most 'popular' mountains in China are well-maintained, and you will not be hiking through a forested path but rather going up the stairways constructed specifically for this purpose. You will also find rest areas with small shops and food stalls selling refreshments at, naturally, elevated prices.

In some regions, especially in the countryside, horseback riding, hiking, river rafting and mountain biking are also practiced. In coastal areas, water sports are popular: Xiamen is the go-to location for windsurfing in autumn, and Wuzhizhou Island in Hainan is the country's first commercial diving location.

Games in China

Brain game lovers will be delighted to discover the ancient strategic chess-type 'Go' game, Mah-jong, card games, and many others. Mah-jong is one of the most popular games played on specially-made tables, and most traditional Chinese hotels will have mah-jong rooms. You will see a lot of people on the street and in parks gathering in groups and playing cards and chess. A variety of dice games are often played in bars: Liar's Dice is China's number one bar game.

Sports clubs in China

It is customary for those interested in the same sports activities to organize meet-ups, games and competitions. There is a variety of amateur sports clubs in China (as well as in the neighboring Special Administrative Districts of Hong Kong and Macau) formed by both expats and locals. Naturally, you will have a wider selection of these in large cities, like Beijing and Shanghai. If you live in a smaller town in China, don't hesitate to reach out to the sports clubs in big cities for information.

Fitness centers in China

If you want to exercise regularly, it is a good idea to buy a membership to one of the many fitness centers. You are sure to find small gyms as well as large fitness clubs with several locations across the city. As fitness is becoming increasingly popular in the country, you will probably be bombarded with advertisements for gyms and fitness clubs in your city. You will also see fitness center agents standing on the streets and handing out flyers with information and membership promotions.

Note that most club agents will pressure you into buying year-long fitness packages. Don't commit to one unless you are sure you will be attending the same gym. Bargaining when buying a fitness membership is quite common, so you can make several attempts to bring down the price.

Useful links:

Shanghai sports clubs (article)

Sports in Beijing

Shenzhen sports clubs (article)

Guangzhou sports clubs (article)

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