The New Era of Water Sports: From Niche to Trend
The sports industry in China has been experiencing unprecedented growth and momentum in recent years. With the development of sports events and activities, there has been a surge in national interest in fitness and sports. Outdoor sports such as kayaking, rowing, and paddleboarding have gained popularity among the public due to their accessibility, inclusivity, and lightweight characteristics.
According to recent data, the number of participants in outdoor sports nationwide has exceeded 400 million, and it is projected that by 2025, the total scale of the outdoor sports industry will exceed 3 trillion yuan. Tong Lixin, Director of the Water Sports Management Center of the State Sports General Administration, Secretary of the Party Committee, and Chairman of the Chinese Canoeing Association, emphasizes the value of expanding sports venues to cater to the growing demand for water sports. He believes that the charm of water sports lies in their ability to promote health and happiness among the public, providing a much-needed escape from the pressures of everyday life.
The distinction between niche and mass sports is evolving based on economic factors and the changing understanding of sports. As natural conditions for water sports improve and the cost of maintenance for water sports venues remains relatively low, the public has been increasingly drawn to activities like kayaking and rowing. Tong Lixin also highlighted the General Administration of Sports‘ plans to promote the opening of natural waters for water fitness sports, creating a better environment for the water sports industry to thrive.
While the proportion of people in China who regularly participate in physical exercise is growing, it still has some way to go to reach the level of a sports powerhouse. Tong Lixin notes that universal participation in water sports has not yet reached the levels seen in other developed countries. However, he sees significant potential for growth in the sector, particularly in terms of infrastructure, equipment, and participation levels among young people.
Tong Lixin’s vision for water sports expansion includes the upcoming China “Legend” Challenge (Boat Race), which aims to encourage more people to explore and engage in rowing. By leveraging the growing interest in outdoor sports, Tong Lixin envisions a future where water sports transition from niche activities to mainstream trends, injecting new vitality into the construction of a strong sports country and the building of a healthy China in 2035.
The new era of water sports in China signals a shift from exclusive activities to inclusive and accessible experiences for all, truly embodying the spirit of a healthy and active nation.