China likely to send 400 athletes for Rio Games

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China's basketball team gather in Kunming, Yunnan Province to prepare for Rio Games.

China expects to send a team of some 400 athletes for this summer's Rio Olympic Games, a top sports official said on Wednesday.

Four years ago, 396 Chinese athletes went to London and finished second behind the United Sates in the medals table with 88 medals including 38 golds.

"Based on our forecast, China will be represented by about 400 athletes at the Rio Games, competing in some 220 events of 26 sports," Liu Aijie, deputy director of the competitive sports department of the State General Administration of Sport, told a press briefing Wednesday afternoon.

With roughly two months to go, China has yet to qualify for the handball and rugby competitions. According to Liu, the chance of qualification looks "very slim".

Liu was cautious about forecasting China's medal prospects in Rio, but tipped the United States to top the table again.

"The order of world sports remains much the same, with the US still the No.1 powerhouse while China and Russia battling for the runner-up position," said Liu.

China expects to rake in most of its golds from six sports where it usually dominates - table tennis, badminton, diving, shooting, gymnastics and weightlifting. These sports accounted for 36 of the 51 gold medals China won in Beijing 2008. In 2012, 27 out of 38 gold medals China won came in these sports.

But Liu said that in some of China's traditional gold mines, Chinese athletes are likely to face stiff challenge from Britain, Germany and Japan, as they have invested heavily in sports over the past several years.

"The Chinese athletes must get fully prepared," he said.

Liu also reiterated China's determination to ditch its gold obsession in the lead-up to the Rio Games.

"We have made great efforts into resolving the problems that come from putting the winning of gold above all else that distorts the spirit of sports. And we will endeavor to send a clean team to Rio," he said.

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