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Monday, August 8, 2022

Is China Still Necessary in Sports?

Those involved in international sports leagues and organisations stand to gain financially from their efforts: huge broadcast agreements, plenty of sponsorship options, and millions of new customers.

The dangers are also obvious: a surrendering of ideals, public relations nightmares, and a general climate of opacity are all possible outcomes.

Since the beginning of the century, they have studied the Chinese market, assessed these aspects, and come up with the same fundamental conclusion: that the advantages of doing business in China exceed the disadvantages. The National Basketball Association can stumble into a humiliating political crisis as a result of a single tweet, and lucrative contracts might evaporate into thin air overnight, but China, it was believed, was a potential gold mine. As a result, leagues, teams, regulatory organisations, and players bent over themselves to seize any opportunity to tap into it.

Recent developments, on the other hand, may have permanently altered that perspective, raising the issue of whether doing business in China is still worthwhile.

Sporting leagues and organisations may soon be forced to re-evaluate their long-held assumptions as China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, governs through an increasingly authoritarian approach, and as the country’s record on human rights has made the country.

Similar direct confrontation is already taking place elsewhere: European Union lawmakers recently called for stronger ties with Taiwan, an island China claims as its own territory.

The WTA’s viewpoint continues to be an anomaly in the eyes of the majority of sports organisations. National Basketball Association, English Premier League, Formula 1 car racing, and the International Olympic Committee are just a few of the sports organisations with multimillion-dollar agreements in China that have mainly brushed aside concerns.

Some partners have acceded to China’s varied demands at various points in time. A few people have expressed their regrets in a humble manner. When it comes to the International Olympic Committee, arguably the most obvious example is how it has gone out of its way to avoid provoking China, even while Peng, a three-time Olympian, has gone missing.

However, as public opinion evolves, it may become more difficult for sports organisations to disregard it. According to a poll released this year by the Pew Research Center, 67 percent of Americans have unfavourable views about China, an increase from 46 percent in 2018. Changes of a similar kind have taken place in other Western democracies.

Chinese sports expert Mark Dreyer, who is based in Beijing and writes for China Sports Insider, said the WTA’s confrontation with China indicated an increase in the “them or us” mindset that looked to be growing between China and its Western competitors.

The threat from the WTA, in turn, may be a precursor to future showdowns, in which case, according to Dreyer, China would be on the losing end.

The WTA’s own 180-degree turn was dramatic. become the new home of its tour finals for the next decade, beginning in 2019. In exchange, the organisation would get a new stadium and a stunning $14 million in prize money each year. The WTA staged nine events in China in 2019, all of which took place before the outbreak.

Many companies underestimated the complexities of China’s economic environment, including the degree to which politics is intertwined into all parts of the country’s economy and the rise of nationalism under President Xi Jinping.

Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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