A man walks between rows of empty seats at a stadium in Xining, Qinghai province. (Photo/Xinhua)
China's major sports venues are experiencing difficulty in their management, with several of them lacking the budget for their operation, according to an official report made by the country's General Administration of Sport.
Academics are also pessimistic that the report is likely to provide solutions to the problems it identifies. Lin Xianpeng of Beijing Sport University pointed out that no country in the world besides China would major sporting facilities be used for members of the public to stretch their legs.
Lin said the maintenance and running of stadiums cannot be covered by allowing the public to pay to use their various facilities, and the infrastructure requires a mature professional sports environment to sustain it. Professional sport in China is still young compared to the Western world, said Lin.
In the West, "the sponsorship a single stadium gets a year could be as much as US$100 million, there are 50 million to 70 million people who buy tickets to attend sporting events every year, and TV broadcasting also represents revenue in the billions of US dollars. Such a large amount of revenue is unthinkable in China," said Yi Jiandong, vice president of Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics.
The General Administration of Sport's report said sport plays a greater role in people's everyday lives in Western countries, which ties sport to culture, leisure, entertainment, health and travel while sporting events are also supported by national policies. "However, China's sports industry is still poorly linked to other domains," Yi said.
Yi suggested the government should elevate the value of the sporting industry to a national strategic level.