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China's Next Sports City Gears Up for First National Youth Games

By Keelan Bowker O'Brien ( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2015-10-08

In Chinese, “Fuzhou” means “Blessed City”, and with the best air quality among provincial capitals in China, the city may truly be “blessed”. Fuzhou is the capital of China’s southern Fujian province which itself boasts a forestation rate of over 60%. It’s perhaps because of this environment that Fuzhou has been chosen to become the main site for China’s first National Youth Games. In little less than a month from now, Fuzhou will be host to over 60,000 spectators and more than 20,000 performers and youth athletes during these inaugural games.

China's Next Sports City Gears Up for First National Youth Games

"RongRong" or 榕榕, the official mascot of the First National Youth Games, is a symbol of vitality and sustainable living. 榕 also means Banyan tree in Chinese. The Banyan tree is Fuzhou's city tree.

This maiden session of China’s National Youth Games will begin on October 18th and run through October 27th. It will feature a total of 26 different competitive events including archery, badminton, boxing, handball, rowing, table tennis, and volleyball among others. While the events will span across 9 of the cities in the Fujian province, the majority of them will be held in Fuzhou. Each of these competitive trials will provide an opportunity for youth athletes all over China to test their mettle on a national stage in preparation for a possible career as an Olympic Athlete.

The games will be held in the brand-new and state-of-the-art, Fuzhou Strait Olympic Sports Center. Located in the Cangshan district of Fuzhou, the Center spans an area of nearly 1,100 acres. The centerpiece is a 120,000 square meter main stadium which is wrapped in color-changing LED lighting and houses an international standard turf soccer pitch as well as a 400 meter track. In addition to the stadium, the center features a 1.2 million square meter gymnasium, a 4,000 person swimming facility, and a tennis complex that sports not only an indoor training facility and a 4,000 person stadium, but also a museum devoted to China’s sports history.

Along with the Fuzhou Strait Olympic Sports Center, the games have ushered in a new wave of development for Fuzhou itself. In order to accommodate the influx of participants and spectators, the city is constructing its first subway line. The full 7 line subway system is projected to be finished in its entirety in October of 2016.

China's Next Sports City Gears Up for First National Youth Games

The games will be held in the brand-new and state-of-the-art, Fuzhou Strait Olympic Sports Center. The Center spans nearly 1,100 acres.

However, the sports culture of Fuzhou is about more than simply hosting China’s first National Youth Games; Fuzhou could very well be China’s next sports capital. Not only is Fuzhou home to one of the five largest sports goods companies in the world, Anta Sports, it is also the capital city of the Province with the largest sports industry in China. The Fujian sports industry is estimated to be roughly 60 billion USD in size. According to figures produced by the Fujian Sports Bureau, the industry has grown at a pace of approximately 10% year-over-year for the last 5 years. If the trend continues, Fujian will command a sports industry worth nearly 100 billion USD by 2020.

In addition to the National Youth Games, Fuzhou has made enormous strides towards becoming the premier sporting city of China in recent years. Since 2013, The Fuzhou Open has been the starting point for the Beach Volleyball World Tour. Fuzhou has also hosted the China Open Badminton Championships since 2014. With these recent developments, one can only expect more “blessings” in the future for the city of Fuzhou.

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