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Reaction to compulsory winter sports runs hot, cold

By TANG YUE | China Daily | Updated: 2016-10-22 06:52

An ambitious proposal by Beijing's sports authority to introduce winter sports as a compulsory course in the city's primary and middle schools has triggered a mixed response from the public, with some believing it might go too far.

Beijing, though not a traditional winter sports power base, is seeing more kids play on the ice and snow after it and Zhangjiakou won the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

It has also issued a plan to accelerate the development of winter sports from now through 2022-the first such plan made by a local government in China.

Sun Xuecai, head of the Beijing Sports Bureau, said Beijing will introduce compulsory winter sports to primary and middle schools.

"Each student is expected to do at least one type of winter sport in the future, and they will have at least one hour of winter sports training every week," Sun said at the World Winter Sports (Beijing) Expo, which runs from Wednesday to Saturday.

However, the municipal education authority, which sets the curriculum, told Beijing Evening News on Friday that it has no plan yet to make winter sports compulsory, because most schools in the city lack the facilities and teachers that would be needed.

Beijing now has 20 public indoor and 20 outdoor skating rinks.

About 16 more indoor and 50 outdoor rinks will be built by 2022, Sun said.

So far, 10 mobile ice rinks have been installed in schools in the city, and these can operate in temperatures of up to 10 C until March, according to the sports bureau.

The capital will also improve 22 existing ski resorts and open 30 new ski areas, Sun said.

The proposal has received a mixed response from the public.

"It is good to develop the winter sports in the city with the Olympics coming in the near future, but it should not be conducted like a movement," said Tan Jianxiang, a sports sociology professor at South China Normal University in Guangzhou, Guangdong province.

"The officials should respect the reality and the students' interest. What if the school doesn't have the facilities, how could you make it compulsory? On the contrary, ice hockey is not compulsory in Beijing, but so many kids love it."

Some parents believe compulsory winter sports would be a positive move.

"My daughter likes ice-skating," said Zhou Hongjun, a Beijing father of a 5-year-old girl. "It's good news if the primary school opens a skating class."

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