Yes, China has become a winter sports powerhouse

The Beijing Winter Olympics are over. In addition to daily sports scores, the Western media covered all sorts of important topics. Human rights of Uighurs, Tibetans and Hong Kongers. Peng Shuai Incident; Zero Corona Policy; Freedom of Expression; Artificial Snowmaking. But they overlooked one. It is the emergence of China as a winter sports powerhouse.

This was not the case at the Winter Olympics at all if the country was ranked 1st or 2nd on some Summer Olympic medal tables. He was 16th in Pyeongchang 2018, 12th in Sochi in 2014, and 14th in the 2006 Torino Olympics. Domestically, it has won 15 medals, including 9 gold, and in 2022 China will be ranked third among the participating countries. Just behind Germany and Norway. But it is fourth, especially ahead of Switzerland, Austria, France, Canada and even the United States. Americans have won more medals (25), but only eight gold, which is the number of priority in this ranking.

GDP and national spending

Many economists such as Madeleine, Vladimir Andrev, and Sandrin Pupo have sought to break through the success factors of these highly regarded Olympic rankings in China (and elsewhere). They can even predict how many medals a country can win in a tournament. Their algorithms are based on about 30 indicators, such as sports and cultural traditions, the fact that they evolve “at home”, and the quality of sports viewers, but emphasize two key elements.

Read again: Beijing 2022, the end of the Olympist cycle

The first is per capita gross domestic product (GDP), which accounts for almost half of the ranking. China, the world’s second-largest economy, has a population of 1.3 billion, but it is difficult to win in the region, reducing this ratio. Norway, with its small population but high GDP (thanks to oil), is always at the top of the medal table. However, GDP per capita is not enough to explain good rankings. Otherwise, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, or Singapore will be at the top.

The second dominant factor is the importance of national spending on elite sports and the interventionist nature (or not) of the sports system, as in the Soviet Union. In this regard, public action is central. It is clear that the People’s Republic of China has invested heavily in elite summer sports and in the last few years elite winter sports with a view to the 2022 Beijing Games since returning to the Olympic Games in 1979. ..

30 Chinese version of glory

Recent articles from time Many foreign coaches have shown that they are involved in this public policy. For example, a young Chinese with excellent physical fitness was chosen to perform a skeleton never seen before. Results in Beijing 2022: Bronze medal for the perfect Chinese rookie in this area. Another approach: Facilitated the naturalization of athletes from China, such as skier Eileen Gu (two gold medals and one silver medal in Beijing).

Referenced article: White page for foreign coaches in China

This investment in athletes involved the construction of a costly winter sports infrastructure. According to statistics released shortly before the 2022 Games, China has 803 ski resorts and 654 ice skating rinks. Twenty years ago it was almost nonexistent. These investments create a large domestic market (talking about more than 300 million skiers) and thus a strong industry, similar to those made in Europe in the glorious 30s. Within a few years, Chinese boots and skis may be widely sold in Europe.

We do not know the total cost of developing winter sports in China. But beyond the geopolitical controversy encountered in Beijing in 2022 and the associated decline in reputation, the Chinese economy clearly has a new trump card in the game.