Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Free of gilt, sports get a breath of fresh air

By Fang Zhou (China Daily) Updated: 2015-01-30 07:53

Free of gilt, sports get a breath of fresh air

After worshipping gold medals for decades, China has finally taken a step to separate sports from utilitarianism and accord priority to sportsmanship. A General Administration of Sports notice posted on the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China, the top discipline body, on Monday said medal winners at the Olympics and Asian Games will no longer be listed for contribution awards and there will be no publication of provincial gold medal rankings at national sport events.

The sports administration has also said it would review the harmful effects of the distorted performance outlook based on gold medal worship, and stop focusing on matters that have been belittling the value of sportsmanship.

This is a welcome development, for it signifies that substantial efforts will now be made to restore the respect and glory of sports and athletes, which they so rightly deserve. The administration's announcement came only days after the top anti-corruption watchdog said the crackdown on corrupt sports officials was one of the reasons for the good performance of the Chinese men's soccer team in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia. For the uninitiated, the Chinese men's team reached the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup, registering its best performance in 11 years.

The gold medal obsession of sports officials did earn China a huge number of medals at the Olympics and other world sports events, but it didn't help develop a sports culture in the country. True, the large number of gold medals Chinese athletes won at international meets boosted Chinese people's national pride. But still, their gilt-edged performances have been widely attributed to the mobilization of the "entire nation's resources".

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