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Olympics inspire China to launch sport-for-all drive
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Chinese people will have greater access to sports facilities thanks to the National Fitness Regulations released by the State Council on Sunday.

Signed by Premier Wen Jiabao on Aug 30, the regulations come into effect on Oct 1.

As written in the regulations, "citizens are entitled to attend fitness-building activities according to law" while the setting up of fitness-building facilities and a survey of sports activities among citizens are listed as obligations for all levels of government.

China's sports minister, Liu Peng, hailed the National Fitness Regulations as a milestone in changing lifestyles.

"The regulations provide legal protection for people taking part in sports activities and are a remarkable step in raising physical wellbeing," said Liu.

Olympics inspire China to launch sport-for-all drive

"It clarifies that citizens have the right to participate in sports and that is the key point. Living in health and happiness is one of the basic rights of people. And taking part in sport is an effective way to acquire fitness."

Introduced by Liu, the proposal for the regulations was raised with the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory body, in 2005 and the paperwork was started the following year.

"The Olympics were not only the show of elite athletes but also the embodiment of sport's general values, which inspired more and more Chinese people to join sports enthusiastically," Liu said.

"The hosting of the Games also boosted the early release of the regulations."

As also stated in the regulations, schools will be encouraged to open their sports facilities to the public after school and on holidays, while public sports facilities should be opened for free on National Fitness Day, which is Aug 8 of each year.

After the Beijing Games, most of the Olympic venues were opened to the public for sports such as table tennis, badminton and fencing but various fees are charged.

The regulations also emphasize the rights of students to practise sports. It has been mandated that schools must ensure one hour each day for students to play sports and also that at least one sports day should be held per academic year.

"The education departments will take charge of carrying out such items and we are responsible for making those rules known to the public," Liu said.

Highlights of the Regulations

Persons and other organizations that donate to national fitness programs will enjoy tax preferences in accordance with the law.

Aug 8 is National Fitness Day. Public sports facilities should open to the public for free and other sports facilities are encouraged to allow free entry on that day.

Students should have at least one hour to play sports or exercise each day at school. Schools should hold at least one sports meeting every year and also organize hiking, camping and sports camps, if conditions permit.

Schools should open their facilites to the public when students are not using them and on public holidays. However, they are entitled to charge for maintaining the facilities.

(China Daily September 8, 2009)

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