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Work on to make Sanya a city focused on sports

By Li Yingxue | China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-29 07:55

The Chinese women's 9-ball world champion Pan Xiaoting walks onto the red carpet, together with 63 other female billiards players, each wearing a lei - it's like a runway show.

Along the carpet, there are totem poles, palms, coconut trees, and tourists - they are in Sanya Romance Park, a popular scenic spot which is a cultural microcosm of Hainan province.

It's the opening ceremony of the 2018 Hainan Sanya Women's World 9-Ball Championship, from Dec 3 to 9, with a total prize of $175,000.

The event, hosted by China's Billiards & Snooker Association and Department of Sports, Culture, Radio, Television and Publication of Sanya, is the city's first top level international billiards competition.

For the opening ceremony, the organizers decided to hold the event at Sanya Romance Park, which is covered in primeval forest and has different theme areas.

"We want to open the tunnel between sports and tourism in Sanya, and this ceremony is our first effort," says Chen Zhenmin, the director of the Department of Sports, Culture, Radio, Television and Publication of Sanya.

At the venue, players were exposed to China's intangible cultural heritage such as weaving Li brocade and blowing sugar-figures.

The Romantic Show of Sanya, which is staged at the park each day, lets visitors enjoy multiple art forms' show and learn about the history of Sanya.

Speaking about the arrangements, Pan says: "When we are in competition, we are always nervous, but in Sanya the comfortable environment and the scenery has helped me relax."

Sanya, which is located on the "edge of heaven and in a corner of the sea" in Hainan province is one of most popular tourism cities in China.

But now, it's not only a beautiful and romantic tourism city, but also a sports venue.

According to Li Wujun, vice secretary-general of the Sanya municipal government, Sanya's current gross domestic product has jumped 353-fold over 30 years, achieving historic leaps forward in the economic and social fields.

"Since the setting up of the city, Sanya has gone from being a small fishing village girl to becoming an internationally well-known modern lady," says Li.

Since April, Sanya has taken President Xi Jinping's speech on the 30th anniversary of the Hainan special economic zone to heart, by taking concrete actions to build the Hainan pilot free trade zone, a free trade port with Chinese characteristics.

"Sports tourism is one of the new ways for Sanya to actively explore tourism, which earlier used to rely only on its unique natural and tourism resources," says Li.

In recent years, a number of international sports events have chosen Sanya, including the Central Hainan International Road Cycling Race, the Youth Sailing World Championships, and the Volvo Ocean Race.

In July, the Sanya Serenity Coast clinched the overall Clipper Round of the World Yacht Race, the first time a Chinese boat has won this competition. And one month later, Sanya earned the bid to host the sixth Asian Beach Games in 2020.

Li says the events had not only caused a rise in public fitness in Sanya, but also greatly boosted the development of the tourism sector, creating a deep convergence between sports events and Sanya's tourism.

Separately, the Sanya Ball King series competition has been held for three consecutive years. And this year's competition involves nine sports including soccer, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, badminton and tennis.

According to Chen, this year's competition attracted amateur athletes aged from 7 to 82.

"It (the series) has become a calling card for Sanya, and it's not only for Sanya's residents. We are inviting ball game lovers from around the world to join us as the Sanya Ball King can be the World Ball King," Chen says.

In another development, Sanya and the Guoao group signed an agreement on June 1 under which the two sides will cooperate in the fields of sports, culture, tourism, and rural revitalization. And the 2018 Hainan Sanya Women's World 9-ball Championship is the first sports project being held under the agreement.

Also, Sanya and the Guoao group plan to build more sports facilities in the parks and on the beach, says Chen.

As Sanya is a coastal city, beach sports and water sports will be the main sports there, says Chen, adding that a sailing school from Qingdao, in Shandong province, and a diving school from Zhanjiang, in Guangdong province, will also set up branches in Sanya.

"Each city has unique characteristics, and our goal is to make Sanya a sports hub in the winter," says Chen.

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