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President Xi: 'a true champion'

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-10-27 23:00
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BEIJING - He's got a No 10 jersey from the German soccer club Bayer Leverkusen, a Lionel Messi No 10 jersey for Argentinian national team, and an Italian national team shirt with the same number. He completed a hat trick. Who is he?

Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Xi, like millions of other people across the world, developed a love for sports at a young age.

"I played football here more than 50 years ago. It was a dirt pitch," Xi said when he watched a football training session during an inspection visit to Beijing Bayi School in 2016.

"As a state leader, I've dedicated myself to the country's cause. Surely, I always overwork. But we should strike a balance between work and rest. I make time for swimming. I swim a kilometer a day," he said during an interview to a Russian TV channel in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.

But his love for sports goes beyond personal growth. Xi champions sports as a way to improve the health of the nation. Fitness for all has been made a key national strategy.

In a bold move, the 13th National Games in Tianjin four years ago allowed amateur competitors, with some 8,000 non-professional athletes attending. There were more than 10,000 at this year's event.

And not only have Chinese benefited from Xi's promotion of sports. Just like the "Ping-Pong Diplomacy" 50 years ago, sports continue to connect peoples and enhance friendship between China and the world.

When Xi visited the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2017, IOC President Thomas Bach said: "President Xi is a true champion and I want to give him a set of medals because he has a clear vision about the important role of sports in society, and the importance of sports for education for the young people."

Xi has played a leading role from bidding to preparing for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, which is scheduled to open on February 4.

"The 2022 Winter Olympic Games, if held in China, will boost exchanges and mutual understanding between China and other nations, encourage more than 1.3 billion Chinese to engage in winter sports with interest and passion, and give them yet another opportunity to help advance the Olympic Movement and promote the Olympic Spirit," Xi said in a speech on Beijing's bid for 2022 Winter Olympics on July 31, 2015.

Winter sports in China were once considered a foreign and unaffordable pastime, but Xi has championed the country's drive of getting 300 million people involved in winter sports. To advance preparation work for the games, Xi had several inspection tours of Beijing and Hebei and met athletes, construction workers and venue operators.

"Our Chinese partners and friends will deliver spectacular Olympic Winter Games that will change the landscape of winter sport forever," said Bach.

"The Chinese people will present to the world a fantastic, extraordinary and excellent Olympic Winter Games in Beijing," Xi said. 

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