In October, a “best-forever selfie” featuring Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister David Cameron of the UK aroused many people’s attention. This just happened during President Xi’s visit to the headquarters of City Football Group (CFG) when Aguero seized his opportunity to grab a quick selfie and tweeted the picture to his nine million followers. This is an interesting sidelight of Xi’s visit to CFG but never the less of importance in his sports diplomacy trips during 2015.
President Xi’ personal love of sport, especially football, has never been a secret to anyone and his passion for sport is appreciated by people both at home and overseas. He not only looks at sport from the perspective of a common person, but also through a politician’s eyes. In 2015, the President has paid eight visits aboard totalling 42 days and attended 9 international conferences.
He has left his footprint across four continents, Asia, Europe, the Americas and Africa, among which Xi’s sports diplomacy trips to the UK and the United States were the most prominent. Actually, Xi has brought his sports diplomacy to many countries including Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Russia, the Netherlands, Argentina and New Zealand. His great involvement in sports related activities continues to lead China towards achieving the goal of becoming a sporting power.
2015 has been a fruitful year for the Chinese sports industry and also for Xi. Among all the sports-related keywords, “football reform” and “2022 Beijing Winter Olympics” were the most trending topics.
In March, China's central reform group, led by President Xi Jinping, approved a plan to revive Chinese football. "We must develop and revitalise football to ensure we are a strong sporting nation," stated the group.
Many think the undertaking on football reform is too great to imagine. They believe China will embrace the real development of a sports industry benefitting from the reform. Another big headline is that Beijing and Zhangjiakou’s successful bid for the rights to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, which has speeded up the development of the Chinese winter sports programs. As President Xi puts it, “the successful bid to host the 2022 Games in China will help promote cultural exchanges with other countries across the world and again make contributions to Olympic development and the spread of the Olympic spirit.”
Following are some sports activities in which Xi has been involved:
January 14, met with Sheik Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, president of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) and chief of the Olympic Council of Asia, in Beijing
February 27, approved the football reform plan
March 2, met with Prince William and talked about sports exchanges
July 31, launched a video clip to celebrate China’s successful bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games
August 22, attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing IAAF World Championships in Athletics
September 4, hosted famed Czech Footballer Pavel Nedved
September 23, received an American football jersey when he visited Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington
October 23, visited the headquarters of City Football Group
Proofread by John Devlin