Fri, 23 Oct 2020

By sportswriters Lin Deren and Xu Dongyuan

SHANGHAI, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- 2020 is a special year for China's sports industry.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all major domestic and international sporting events were rescheduled or canceled in the first half of the year. People were reluctant to go outside, and most sports companies struggled to do business. Some didn't survive.

The 2020 China Sports Show was also affected. The annual sports business show had originally been scheduled in May, but had to be postponed to September. For the same reason, the number of international participants was much smaller than last year.

"The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to all industries," said Luo Jie, vice president of the China Sporting Goods Federation. "Thanks to the effort of the whole country, the virus was effectively controlled, and we finally made the show happen."

According to Luo, sporting goods companies, including sports giants Nike and Adidas, were facing big pressure in sales.

However, there was also good news.

"The sales of fitness equipment has been increasing. According to the Suning platform, sales of dumbbells, hula hoops and yoga mats increased by more than 300 percent over the same period of 2019," said Liu Fumin, director of the Department of Sports Economics of China General Administration of Sport.

Thanks to effective COVID-19 control measures, more and more companies began to regain their energy in the second half of 2020.

The 2020 China Sport Show attracted more than 1,200 companies, one of which is Airgoal Sports.

The company has been focusing on soccer-related equipment, and it has served more than 40,000 schools all around the world.

"It's our 10th straight year at the Sport Show," said Airgoal's Liang Jiahua. "We are bringing some new products here and the sales are satisfactory."

Airgoal is paying more attention to the domestic market, given the fact that China has been promoting school sports in recent years.

"More than 10,000 schools in China are using our products," said Liang. "And we are expecting more."

According to Liu, the COVID-19 pandemic can also be an opportunity for the sports industry.

"The special situation during the pandemic forced people to find new ways of doing sports," said Liu. "Online sports competitions, online training classes and sports broadcasting shows have become more popular. That also led to faster development of hi-tech sporting equipment."

The use of new technology became a hot topic at the show, and more companies are trying to improve their products by using tech such as 5G and AI.

"New technology will deeply change the sports world," said Wang Yuxiong, professor of China's Central University of Finance and Economics.

"The use of new tech will enable us to save more time, which is the most precious resource in the future. People will finish their training plan at home instead of going outside. You don't have to actually go to the venue for a basketball game, because the VR tech will make you feel as if you're on court."

Wang predicts that the new technologies will bring dramatic changes to the sports market, and sports companies should follow the trend and find new opportunities.

Liu Fumin is confident of the future. "The sports industry has been influenced, but at the same time, the Chinese economy is still moving ahead, and the Chinese sports industry is still developing," he said.

"I'm sure that the sports industry will play a more important role in the Chinese economy in the future."

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