POSTED: July 22nd 2015

Beijing 2022: Superstar basketball player Yao Ming wants to deliver new Beijing Olympic sports legacy

Yao Ming served as flag bearer for China at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 ©Beijing 2022
Yao Ming served as flag bearer for China at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 ©Beijing 2022

The basketball superstar ©Beijing 2022
The basketball superstar ©Beijing 2022

MARISSA FLANDERS (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Beijing 2022 has enlisted China's top Winter Olympic athletes to aid in the designing of an Olympic and Paralympic Winter bid, which will prioritize the athlete experience. These efforts will assist in delivering an athlete-centered Games. A vast pool of both youth and experienced Winter Olympic athletes have been supporting the bid as athlete consultants. Playing a crucial role in this has been three-time Chinese Olympian, eight-time National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star, and Beijing 2022 Bid Ambassador, Yao Ming. Yao is one of China's best-known athletes and is very passionate about bringing the 2022 Winter Olympic Games to Beijing. He believes that the Games will expand upon the already strong sports legacy left behind by the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

Yao said, "One of the many ways Beijing 2008 changed China is that sport is now a lifestyle here."

"Beijing 2022 would bring this all to a new level," expressed Yao.

For Yao, the 2008 Summer Games have solidified a broad sporting culture for China that remains while also helping Beijing transform into a cosmopolitan international destination.

"Many Chinese people have adopted a sporting lifestyle since Beijing 2008," stated Yao.

Since the 2008 Games, Beijing has enjoyed hosting many major sporting events such as events held by its hometown franchises the Guoan (football) and the Beijing Ducks (basketball). Next month, the city will host the 2015 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Athletic Championships at the iconic Bird's Nest stadium.  

In addition, China has gained organizing experience in winter multi-sports events over the years by hosting events such as the XXIV Winter Universiade in Harbin in 2009; two Asian Winter Games; 2014 Men's Curling Championship in Beijing; legs of the International Ski Federation (FIS) Freestyle Skiing World Cup in Harbin, Jilin, Changchun, Shenyang, and Beijing from 2004-2014; and in March of 2015 the International Skating Union (ISU) World Figure Skating Championships in Shanghai. Also earlier this year, the city of Beijing was ranked fifth in the top 10 Best International Sports Cities.

However, Yao thinks the best way to develop a long-term sporting culture and be able to sustain it is by starting at the grass roots level. Since his retirement from basketball in 2011, Yao has been dedicated to promoting the mass sports culture in China and has focused his attentions on physical education.

In the past, some schools didn't have the means to focus fully on physical education, but Yao pledged to help. One of his initiatives was the development of a junior basketball league, with the assistance of many volunteers, for young students that lived in remote village schools.

"We'd like those kids living in the mountains to have the opportunity to go to the big cities or travel to other schools to see how life is over there," commented Yao.

Yao stated that the project was not about getting the students to "dream big," but instead "dream differently."

Furthermore, Yao strongly identifies with Beijing 2022's goal to inspire 300 million Chinese to take part in winter sports. China's northern areas experience frigid winters and Yao expressed how unfortunate it was to "force all outdoor sport activity into hibernation" from November to April due to the cold. Yao added that the Winter Olympics would continue to expand the rapidly developing winter sports culture, especially in the Northern provincial areas like Zhangjiakou. People would be able to enjoy a healthy lifestyle all year long without having to be forced to stay indoors.

Also Beijing 2020 wants to institute a Winter Olympic education program at over 300,000 schools all over China, which would reach around 400 million children,. The program would work through infrastructure that is already in place.  

"Beijing has the experience and the infrastructure from 2008 to stage a remarkable Winter Olympics," stated Yao.

He added, "Beyond this, it would contribute to a well-rounded sports culture in China that covers more ground than just basketball and football."

The international superstar, Yao concluded, "sport is more than just a physical competition; it is a way to forge character and discipline."

** MARISSA FLANDERS is a graduate of Saint Leo University with a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Business. She has over four years of writing experience and has a real passion for ice hockey following the Pittsburgh Penguins on her blog

Keywords · Olympics · Beijing 2022

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