Hosting the 2015 Sudirman Cup helped Dongguan forge a positive image as a vibrant city of sports where elite competition and sporting activities benefit residents.
While the Sudirman Cup world mixed team championships finished on May 17, the badminton fever brought on by supporting crowds at the Nissan Sports Center during the event strengthened the already strong sports culture in the South China city.
Poul-Eric Hoyer, president of the Badminton World Federation, said he was impressed by the organization of the tournament as well as the sports participation in Dongguan.
"Our players and technical staff told me they were treated very well. The venue is second to none. The audience is there making the atmosphere for the players to produce their very best," Hoyer said during the eight-day tournament.
People in Dongguan not only enjoy watching the sport but playing badminton is a popular activity.
According to the city government of Dongguan, there are 100 badminton amateur clubs, 1,535 courts and 60 multipurpose sports facilities for hosting badminton competitions in the city, where more than 50,000 amateur enthusiasts play on a weekly basis.
"The game really has deep roots in the city and the people here are always passionate in appreciating badminton competitions," said Chinese national team head coach Li Yongbo, who set up a badminton school under his name in Dongguan.
The city has also made its mark on the country's sports map by hosting two elite Chinese Basketball Association clubs.
As the first privately owned professional basketball club in China, Guangdong Winnerway has won eight CBA titles since 2004, while another Dongguan-based club, New Century, has also performed well in recent years.
A group of locally grown basketball players, including Yi Jianlian, Zhu Fangyu and Li Muhao, have become national team stars, while the National Basketball Association-authorized Dongguan Basketball School is continuing to nurture talented players.
Inspired by sports achievements at the elite level, grassroots enthusiasm for basketball has grown in Dongguan, where more than 1,000 competitions are organized at all levels each year.
"Hosting the Sudirman Cup offers a great opportunity to promote Dongguan's appeal as a hotbed for sports while providing the world a window to see the progress the city has achieved toward civilization and harmony," said Xu Jianhua, Party chief of Dongguan.
Showcase of image
"By hosting the Sudirman Cup, Dongguan accumulated valuable experience in big event operation. The tournament also provided a window for Dongguan to demonstrate an open and vibrant city image to the whole world," said Yuan. The Nissan Sports Center was the main venue for the event in Dongguan's southeastern suburbs and has become a destination for several domestic sports competitions and entertainment shows. More international events are expected to be held in Dongguan following the success of the Sudirman Cup, said Yuan. The well-developed accommodation sector in Dongguan, which is home to 22 five-star hotels, also suggests that the city is capable of hosting bigger international events in the future, he added.
During the tournament, three media tours involving hundreds of reporters from home and abroad were organized to explore the city's booming manufacturing industry, historical heritage sites, scenic spots and sports facilities.
"The planning of urban construction was well done. Green parks and greenbelts are integrated with the buildings, roads and other urban facilities," said Yu Guohua, a reporter for Wuhan Evening News.
Thanks to the opening-up policy and its geographic advantage in the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong economic corridor, Dongguan has developed into a key manufacturing hub and a major export-driven economic center in South China.
The city's GDP hit 588.12 billion yuan ($94.8 billion) and foreign trade reached $162.53 billion in 2014, up 7.8 percent and 6.2 percent from 2013, according to official statistics. To date, foreign businesses from more than 40 countries and regions have set up about 11,000 projects in the city, with their capital input totaling $80 billion. These include 87 projects funded by 49 of the world's top 500 consortia.
With more sports events to be staged in Dongguan, the city vowed to enrich sports culture to become a versatile metropolis rather than just a manufacturing hotbed.
"Sports participation is rooted deep in people's lives in Dongguan. Well-equipped sports facilities are seen everywhere in neighborhoods and industrial parks," said Peng Qiyao, director of Dongguan city sports bureau.
Dongguan has long attached great importance to developing sports and has outpaced many other cities in China.
With 13,247 sports facilities of various types covering an area of 18.62 million square meters, the city is reputed as the nation's hometown for swimming, weightlifting, dragon boat racing and lion dancing. It is also known as the nation's cradle for snooker champions and China's basketball city.
Original title by China Daily: Championships enhance city's sports culture & Dongguan set to stage more int'l events