POSTED: July 29th 2015

Olympics: Pro athletes Yao Ming and Song Andong talk about their support for Beijing 2022

Left to right...  New NHL draftee Andong Song and retired NBA star Yao Ming
Left to right... New NHL draftee Andong Song and retired NBA star Yao Ming

DR. ERIC C. SCHWARZ at the Traders Hotel in KUALA LUMPUR / Sports Features Communications

(SFC)  Early today press conferences by two Chinese athletes with professional credentials in United States professional league discussed their support for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic bid.

First to speak was Andong Song, who is the first China-born player drafted into the National Hockey League.  He was drafted in the 6th round (172nd overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft by the New York Islanders.

Song discussed his initial reaction to his childhood home, Beijing, submitting a bid to host the Winter Olympic Games.  "I was very excited... it is a dream for any athlete to compete in the Olympics, and it is a special honor to be able to do it in your home country and in the city where I grew up."

Song responded to what he feels China needs to do to increase the level of ice hockey.  He says that the goal is "to get more people involved with the sport".  He believes that "after being drafted... hopefully that will inspire the youth of China to get involved with the sport and develop the sport as a whole."

When Song grew up in China, there was not much exposure to the NHL - or even the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) from Russia.  CCTV now is broadcasting NHL games back to China, which Song believes will increase the popularity of the sport.

Song sees Yao Ming as a role model and hopes he can follow in his big footsteps to help increase the popularity of ice hockey in China the same way he did with basketball...

Speaking of the 7' 6" former National Basketball League (NBA) player who was the #1 draft pick of the Houston Rockets in 2002 and played for eight years in the league, Yao Ming also spoke to the media today regarding his support for the Beijing 2022 bid.

In commenting about Beijing trying to become the first city to host a Summer and Winter Olympics Games, Ming said "I do not believe the focus should be on whether we are to become the host of a Summer and Winter Olympic Games, we are focused on how the Olympic Games is a treasure to the Chinese society and we all have a very strong sense of Olympic spirit that can impact generation after generation."

Considering China's desire to expand their winter sports market from a business standpoint, Ming believes winter sports offers an opportunity for further diversity of participation opportunities for the population, which in turn will result in new business opportunities.

As far as change that he believes the Olympics can create, he provided an example of the legacy of the 2008 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games - "it brings more character to Chinese people - initially is was all about how many gold medals can be won during the Olympics - after the Olympics it increased the pride and personality of the people of China."

Ming hopes that by hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, the legacy of Beijing and China will perpetuate. 

DR. ERIC C. SCHWARZ is a tenured Senior Lecturer of Sport Management at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia.  He has been an academician for 15 years in the areas of sport business management, international tourism, and hospitality management - with special focus on the areas of sport marketing, sport finance, tourism, and facility/event management.  He speaks globally and is the author of numerous publications in these areas, as well as been actively involved in consulting projects working with a multitude of sport and community organizations ranging from grassroots efforts to hallmark events.  

Keywords · Olympics; 128th IOC Session; Beijing 2022; Yao Ming · Andong Song

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