World-famous Chinese film director Zhang Yimou
directed this 5-minute film in 2000 to advance Beijing's bid for
the 2008 Summer Olympics. It worked well, drawing an additional
vote for Beijing from the judges.
Now the host city is counting down to the 2008
Olympic Games. According to the Beijing Olympics Organizing
Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), all the new
venues of the Games will be completed before the end of 2007 and
other preparations are in full swing.
For more information, you may visit our website
China and the Olympics
The earliest involvement between China and the
Olympics dates back to 1894 when Pierre de Coubertin, founder of
the modern event, and the then Greek prince issued an invitation to
Qing Dynasty rulers through the French Embassy in China. They asked
them to send athletes to the first Modern Olympiad, to be held in
Athens in 1896, but the Qing government didn't reply due to their
unfamiliarity with sports events.
In 1904, some Chinese newspapers reported stories
about the third Olympics, which were held in St Louis in the United
In 1906, a domestic magazine introduced the history
of the Olympic movement to readers.
On October 24, 1907, the renowned educationist
Zhang Boling delivered a speech on the Olympics after a sports meet
in Tianjin. He said China should learn from European countries that
sent their athletes to compete in the Olympics, regardless of the
After the fourth Olympiad concluded in London in
1908, Tianjin Youth magazine covered the history of the events and
suggested that China should hold its own version. Some activists
showed slides from the London Olympics and gave speeches on it.
Between October 18 and 24, 1910, the first Chinese
national sports meet was held in Nanjing as part of the country's
effort to participate in and host the Olympics at an early
The Far Eastern Championship Games, originally
named the Far Eastern Olympics, was launched in 1913. As one of the
founders, China participated in all ten Far Eastern Championship
Games held from 1913 to 1934.
In 1915, the International Olympic Committee (IOC)
recognized the games and invited China to join in the next Olympics
and to attend IOC meetings.
In 1922, Wang Zhengyan, chancellor of China
University and sponsor of the Far Eastern Championship Games, was
selected to be the first Chinese IOC member.
In August 1924, the All-China Athletic Association
was established as the first national sports organization. Later,
China sent three athletes to participate in non-competition tennis
events at the eighth Olympics in Paris.
Four years later, China named Song Hairu as its
observer at the Ninth Olympics in Amsterdam instead of sending any
The IOC recognized the All-China Athletic
Association in 1931 and China formally went onto the Olympic
In 1932, the Kuomintang government intended to send
Shen Siliang, secretary-general of the All-China Athletic
Association, to visit the tenth Olympics in Los Angeles. The puppet
government in Manchuria, supported by the Japanese, wanted to
dispatch two athletes, Liu Changchun and Yu Xiwei, instead but Liu
refused to represent them. The Kuomintang government finally sent a
six-member delegation, including team leader Shen, coach Song Junfu
and both Yu and Liu, who ranked fifth and sixth after the first
rounds of the men's 100m and 200m races. Despite his failure in the
qualifiers, Liu became China's first Olympic athlete.
In 1936, a 139-member delegation was sent to the
11th Olympic Games in Berlin, consisting of 69 competitors for
athletics, swimming, basketball, football, weightlifting, boxing
and cycling, 34 observers and 11 demonstrators of traditional
martial arts. None managed to make it to the finals except Fu
Baolu, who finished with 3.80m in the pole vault. After the
Olympics, the martial arts demonstrators toured Denmark, Sweden,
Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria and Italy, where they were warmly
received and highly acclaimed for their performances.
In 1939, Kong Xiangxi was selected as the second
IOC member for China.
After China won the War of Resistance Against
Japanese Aggression in 1945, Wang Zhengyan, Yuan Dunli, Dong
Shouyi, together with other Chinese gymnasts, suggested China host
the 15th Olympics in 1952.
In 1947, Dong Shouyi was appointed the third
Chinese IOC member.
The 12th and 13th Olympiads had not been held due
to the Second World War, but for the 14th Olympics in London in
1948, China dispatched a 52-member delegation, consisting of 33
contenders for track and field, swimming, football, basketball, as
well as cycling events. The results were disappointing, as all were
eliminated in the preliminary contests. What was more, the
delegation had to borrow money to make it back home.
After the overthrow of the Kuomintang government
and the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the
All-China Athletic Association was reorganized into the All-China
Sports Federation (Chinese Olympic Committee), and its headquarters
moved from Nanjing to Beijing.
In February 1952, the federation expressed its
willingness to the IOC to take part in the 15th Olympic Games in
Helsinki. But an obstacle appeared when some Olympic committee
members who had fled to the island of Taiwan with the Kuomintang
claimed that they should represent China at the Olympics. On July
17, just two days before the opening of the games, the IOC passed a
resolution inviting athletes from the People's Republic of China.
Of them, only Wu Chuanyu got passed the qualifiers with a time of
1min 12.3s in the men's 100m-backstroke. The Chinese football and
basketball teams played friendly games with their Finish
In May 1954, the IOC recognized the All-China
Sports Federation as the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) with 23
votes for and 21 against at its 50th session in Athens.
In June 1955, Rong Gaotang, the then vice president
and secretary-general of the COC, stated at the Third Meeting
between the IOC's Executive Board and national Olympic committees
that the inclusion of a Taiwan sports organization in the IOC was
illegal and that they should withdraw its recognition. However, the
then IOC President Avery Brundage turned down the demand, saying
that sport has nothing to do with politics.
In 1956, some senior IOC officials continued to
raise the "Two Chinas" problem and insisted that Taiwan solely
participate in the 16th Olympics in Melbourne. The COC lodged a
strong protest with the IOC and withdrew from the games.
On August 19, 1958, the All-China Sports Federation
announced a stop to all relations with the IOC. The COC and the
sports associations affiliated to it withdrew from 15 international
organizations one after another during June-August. The then IOC
member Dong Shouyi also resigned.
The IOC then recognized a sports organization in
Taiwan as a national Olympic Committee and selected its local
official Xu Heng as an IOC member in 1970.
During this period, athletes from Taiwan Province
participated in five summer Olympic Games, of whom Yang Chuanguang
became the first Chinese Olympic medal-winner when he grabbed the
runner-up in the men's decathlon events at the Rome Olympics in
Ji Zheng was the first Chinese woman to get a medal
after ranking third in the women's 80m hurdles at the Mexico
Olympics in 1968.
In 1973, the Chinese Olympic Committee became a
member of the Asian Olympic Council.
With China's increasing recognition in the world,
in 1979 the Chinese Olympic Committee supported suggestions to the
IOC to reinstate the country's rightful status.
In October 1979, at a meeting held in Nagoya, the
IOC Executive Board passed a resolution on the problem of China's
representation, confirming the COC as the representative of the
Olympic Movement in the whole of China using the national flag and
national anthem of the People's Republic of China, while the
Olympic committee in Taiwan area, as one of China's local
organizations, could only use the name of "Chinese Taipei Olympic
Committee" with its flag, anthem and emblem different from the
original ones pending the IOC's approval. The resolution was passed
by the IOC members with a vote of 62 for, 17 against and 2
In 1980, China took part at the Lake Placid Winter
Olympic Games, sending 28 athletes to compete in a total of 18
events, such as speed skating, figure skating, and cross-country
skiing. Wang Guizhen finished 18th in the alpine skiing women's
slalom – China's best results at the games.
China lodged a protest with the former Soviet Union
for its invasion to Afghanistan and thus did not participate in the
22nd summer Olympics in Moscow.
In 1981, He Zhenliang was elected IOC member, and
then a member of the IOC Executive Board in 1985 and Vice President
The Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee became a
member of the Asian Olympic Council in 1982.
When the 23rd Olympics were held in Los Angeles in
1984, China sent a delegation of 353 members consisting of 224
athletes for gymnastics and another 15 events. China's first gold
medal at the L.A. Games was won by Xu Haifeng, a sharpshooter who
also became the first Chinese to win such an honor in Olympic
history. Wu Xiaoxuan won the title in standard small-bore rifle
shooting, becoming the first Chinese woman to win an Olympic gold.
Gymnastic star Li Ning won three gold medals, two silver medals and
one bronze. Altogether, Chinese athletes took 15 gold, eight silver
and nine bronze medals, standing fourth in the gold medals tally.
The Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee sent a 67-member delegation,
consisting of 57 athletes, and won 2 bronzes. It was the first time
China and Chinese Taipei both attended the Olympics since 1948.
In 1988, at the 24th Olympics held in Seoul, 299
Chinese athletes of the 445-member delegation competed in a total
of 21 events and accumulated five golds, 11 silvers and 12 bronzes,
dropping seven places to 11th place in the golds tally. Gymnast Lou
Yun for the second time took the gold of the men's vault, becoming
the first Chinese to win two golds in a row. In the same year, Wu
Jingguo, member of Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee, became an IOC
During 1991 and 2001, Beijing made two Olympic
bids, one for 2000 and the other for 2008. In its first bid it lost
to Sydney by a narrow margin of two votes, but in the second it
beat another nine cities to win the right to host the 29th Olympic
Summer Games in 2008, thanks to its great potential for economic
growth and the remarkable achievements in sport made by China over
the previous decade.
At the 25th Olympics held in Barcelona in 1992, the
380-member Chinese delegation, including 251 sportspeople,
collected 16 golds, 22 silvers and 16 bronzes to place fourth in
gold medal standings behind the Commonwealth of Independent States,
the United States and Germany. Swimmer Lin Li won the women's 200m
individual medley with 2'11''65 and became the first Chinese to
break the world record. Gao Min pocketed the women's 3m springboard
gold again after the Seoul Olympics, becoming the first Chinese
woman to consecutively win golds at two Olympics.
At the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, China sent a
delegation of 495 members consisting of 309 athletes for 22 out of
the 26 events and maintained its fourth place with 16 golds, 22
silvers and 12 bronzes, behind only the United States, Russia and
Germany. Lee Lai-shan, a women's sailing athlete, won Hong Kong's
first Olympic gold in Atlanta 1996, one year before Hong Kong
returned to the motherland.
Also in 1996, Lu Shengrong, the then president of
the International Badminton Federation, became the first Chinese
woman to hold the post of IOC member.
At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, China sent a
311-athlete delegation and won an unprecedented haul of 28 golds,
16 silvers and 15 bronze medals. For the first time, China clinched
a place in the top three, both in its gold medal tally and in
overall medal achievement.
On September 14, 2000, Yu Zaiqing, Vice President
of the COC, was elected as IOC member, the seventh Chinese in
history. Yu was appointed a member of the IOC Executive Board in
At the 19th Olympic Winter Games held in Salt Lake
City in 2002, short-track speed skater Yang Yang (A) beat a strong
field to win both the women's 500m and 1000m races.
In 2004, China took part in the Athens Games with a
strong delegation, with 407 athletes participating in 26 out of the
28 sports listed on the games program, except for baseball and
equestrianism. With a historic high of 32 gold in 13 sports and 63
medals in all, China broke its record Olympic medal haul and
exceeded Russia to rank second in the gold medal tally, following
the United States, and third in the overall medal tally. Chinese
Taipei won 2 golds at the Athens: Chen Shih Hsin in women's
taekwondo 49kg, and Chu Mu Yen in men's 58kg taekwondo.
To date, China has participated in six summer
Olympics since its reinstatement in the IOC in 1979, winning a
total of 112 golds, 96 silvers and 78 bronzes. Meanwhile, Chinese
athletes competed in seven winter Olympics and collected 2 gold, 12
silver and 8 bronze medals.
(China.org.cn March 24, 2007)