Baoshan to become a sports town

Baoshan District, once noted for its iron and steel industries, aims to develop itself into a sports center, with an initial emphasis on basketball and ballroom dancing.
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The British Blackpool Dance Festival, known as the "Ballroom Dance Olympics," is being held at Baoshan Arena until Tuesday.

Baoshan District plans to build more sports venues and facilities to turn the former industrial base into a "sports town," officials said on Monday.

The northern district aims to initially develop Baoshan into the city's major training centers on basketball and ballroom dancing, said Jiang Biyan, director with the Baoshan Sports Bureau.

"The district has cultivated many world's famous athletes such as Xu Xin, the world No. 3 table tennis player, and Wu Jiaxin, the semi-final archery player at the 2016 Rio Olympics," Jiang said.

Professional basketball courts and sports parks will be built across the district, including in its agricultural towns like Luojing. The aim is to enable residents be able to reach a sports site within a 15-minute walk, she added.

Currently, the district has a total of some 80,000 square meters of sports facilities. It hosts some 1,200 sports events and competitions every year, with more than 900,000 Baoshan residents — or nearly half of its population — taking part, according to the bureau.

Various competitions will be held among the public such as a monthly "street basketball competition" being held on the first Saturday every month at the Baoshan Arena, a sports venue built to National Basketball Association standard, she said.

The district government has also introduced world renowned events, such as the British Blackpool Dance Festival which is currently taking place in Baoshan, to attract more public participation, said Jiang.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The British Blackpool Dance Festival, known as the "Ballroom Dance Olympics," is being held in Baoshan Arena through Tuesday.

The organizer of the century-old festival announced on Monday plans to establish an educational federation based in Baoshan with Alisports, the sports arm of the Internet giant Alibaba.

The federation will include an examination system to offer the opportunity for local amateur and professional dancers to improve their skills, said Michael Williams, managing director of Blackpool Entertainment Company, which operates the festival.

"The examinations will serve from the youngest dancer of under 6 years old to the Blackpool Award level," Williams told a seminar on the development of ballroom dancing in China.

China currently has at least 80 million professional or amateur sports dancers, a fifth of them juveniles, said Wei Quanmin, vice president of Alisports.

On Alibaba's online platforms alone, such as Taobao and Tmall, over 10 million people spent a total of 2.5 billion yuan (US$375 million) on ballroom dancing shows, uniforms and other essential dancing equipment in 2016, Wei said.

"We want to attract more public attention on sports and the sports industry through the world's top events like the Blackpool festival," he added.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The British Blackpool Dance Festival, known as the "Ballroom Dance Olympics," is being held at Baoshan Arena through Tuesday.

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