Development of sports facilities pushed

Updated: Oct 20, 2020 By Xu Wei China Daily Print
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The government has introduced new measures to boost the development of public fitness facilities as part of broader efforts to implement the Healthy China initiative and encourage greater public participation in sports programs.

On Oct 10, the General Office of the State Council published a guideline that outlined policy measures in 11 fields to meet the growing demand for fitness facilities.

Constructing more fitness facilities and enabling greater public participation in sports are necessary requirements of Healthy China 2030 and the National Public Fitness Program, the office said.

To provide more space, local authorities will be allowed to use idle land in urban areas to construct sports facilities, while private enterprises will be permitted to rent land for a maximum of 20 years if they intend to build fitness centers, the guideline said.

It called for local authorities to conduct surveys of existing facilities to identify their basic condition and weak links, as well as urban spaces such as unused land, green space in parks, factory grounds and rooftops that can be used for fitness purposes.

Governments in different areas must come up with five-year plans to strengthen the development of facilities, including multipurpose sports grounds, sports parks, trails and squares for fitness purposes and miniature soccer fields within a year, according to the document.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has further amplified the importance, necessity and urgency of bolstering the development of fitness facilities and grounds," Wang Ke, an official with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, told a news conference on Oct 10.

Wang noted that fitness facilities easily accessible to the public are severely inadequate, and the government will accelerate the development of small and mini-sized grounds and facilities.

The guideline included a plan to construct or renovate 1,000 sports parks across the country during the period of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25).

Stadiums and other large sports complexes will be encouraged to open for free or have a low admission charge, and the government will adopt the necessary incentive mechanisms to open facilities in schools and colleges to the general populace.

The document also highlighted the need for public sports grounds to establish sound mechanisms to allow visitors to reserve services via mobile applications, instant-messaging platforms, websites and phones, and to implement measures to ensure the traceability of users and avoid large gatherings.

The government will entrust specialized institutions with the development of community sports service systems that will integrate functions to allow people to search for and reserve facilities, consult sports coaches and register training sessions, the guideline said.

A stay-at-home fitness promotion program will be pushed forward as the Healthy China initiative is enforced, and local authorities will be encouraged to work with online fitness service platforms to open home fitness courses.

Ou Xiaoli, head of the Department of Social Development at the National Development and Reform Commission, told the Oct 10 news conference that the development of public fitness facilities may be included in the 14th Five-Year Plan and the central fiscal budget will step up investment in this regard.

Such facilities will also be included in plans for the development of new urban areas and the renovation of older residential communities, neighborhoods and villages, he said.

The guideline came before the release of a document by the general offices of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, China's Cabinet, on Oct 15, which outlined moves to comprehensively strengthen and improve physical education in schools.

Schools must increase the weight of physical education in their curriculums, step up training of students in sports skills and categories, and improve all their sports facilities and equipment, the document said.

Huo Jianxin, a sports industry professor at Capital University of Physical Education and Sports in Beijing, said the growth in the number of fitness enthusiasts has given rise to stronger demand for sports grounds and facilities.

He noted that the latest guideline has expanded the supply of land for the development of fitness facilities and alleviated the pressure on private investors as it greenlighted their use of rental land to develop facilities.

It also catered to surging demand for stay-at-home fitness activities during the pandemic by encouraging the growth of online service platforms, he added.

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