Chinese comedy show pulls episode after it dunks too hard on basketball players
A popular Chinese comedy show said on Sunday that it would suspend a highly anticipated episode roasting two famous Chinese basketball players after viewers criticized it for being uncomfortably harsh.  The decision from Tencent’s Roast! also highlights the push and pull between China’s state-led sports system and private industry.   On March 14, the show aired the first half of a series roasting Chinese National Team basketball players Guo Ailun and Zhou Qi. The two players were part of a team that faced intense domestic criticism after their lackluster performance at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, one of the most important international tournaments in the sport. China flamed out in th
Baseball boys: Movie portrays struggle of China’s growing number of ‘left-behind’ children
An image of poor young rural Chinese boys swinging baseball bats in a bid for a better life has moved a nation to tears with the release of a new documentary that sheds light on the lives of the country’s “left-behind” children. The documentary, Tough Out, opened last week to critical acclaim and is a devastating reflection of the reality faced by seven million children who have been left behind in rural China by parents forced to move to the cities in search of work.  Named best documentary in this year’s FIRST International Film Festival, it focuses on a group of boys from across rural China brought to Beijing to play baseball by Qiangbang Angels Baseball Base, a charity set up by Sun Ling
A soccer team in China forfeited a match because ‘hair not black enough’
There are various reasons a soccer team loses a match, but the color of its players’ hair is certainly a new one.  A women’s soccer team in China was banned by officials from taking the field because their players’ hair was “not black enough.”  The team from Fuzhou University was scheduled to play Jimei University in the south-eastern province of Fujian as part of a two-week tournament, but was told by officials beforehand it was in breach of the rules that ban jewelry, “strange hairstyles” and dyed hair. Coaches tried frantically to rectify the issue before kick-off, acquiring black hair dye from nearby salons, but some of the players’ hair was deemed “not black enough.” “In reality, it’s
Death of ‘soccer god’ sparks nostalgia among Chinese fans
When Diego Maradona died on Wednesday, it was a moment of nostalgia for many soccer fans in China, who were reminded of childhood memories of watching the World Cup with their parents. Maradona is often mentioned as the greatest soccer player in the history of the sport. While he retired from professional-level soccer in 1997, millennials remember watching him as kids, when he played for the Argentinian national team in the 1980s and 1990s.  “When I was younger, most of my memories with my dad were sitting there watching football while my dad talked about the miraculous plays by Maradona,” a 24-year-old woman from northeastern China’s Jinlin, who wanted to be identified by her surname
How a coal miner became China’s first world boxing champion
Most boxers who turn professional have already spent years sharpening their skills on the amateur scene. Not China’s Xiong Chaozhong. When Xiong turned pro at the age of 23, the only grind he had come to know was pushing carts out of the coal mines for 13 cents a day, working 10-hour shifts.  He is a member of the Miao (Hmong) ethnic minority, and he started laboring at 17. He had dropped out of school to help support his family, who lived in the countryside of Wenshan, in the south of Yunnan province. But the grueling job did teach him something that helped prepare him for the rigors of the ring. “Pulling coal carts was about technique, not strength. Boxing is the same,” said Xiong in the
Tokyo Olympics mean a lot more to Japan than a sporting spectacle
Japan has far more at stake than its athletes picking up medals in the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympics, which explains the government’s single-minded commitment to going ahead with the event in the face of the threat posed by the novel coronavirus. The Japanese government on Wednesday reiterated that the Games would go ahead in July as scheduled, with chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga declaring that preparations were continuing despite the spread of the virus worldwide. The previous day, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) threw its weight behind Tokyo’s position. “We are preparing for a successful Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020,” said IOC head Thomas Bach. “I would like t
The spectacular fall of Chinese swimmer who called himself ‘king’
“I am the king,” Sun Yang said at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. He was referring to his position in the 1,500m freestyle and his rivalry with Australian swimmer Mack Horton, but he could have been talking in general. Much like the other “Sun King,” Louis XIV of France, China’s superstar swimmer has surrounded himself with a court of flatterers and sycophants. That is why Sun, 28, only talks to state-run media Xinhua and CCTV, plus two or three Chinese print journalists, as he knows the coverage will be positive. Heaven forbid there was any negativity, or worse: people preferred rival Ning Zetao, as some fans and media did. This and the literal embrace of swimming’s governing body – Sun was hug
No deal and no name as German soccer counts the cost of China backlash
A German soccer club and one of the country’s star players are feeling the heat from China.  News emerged over the weekend that Bundesliga side Cologne lost a deal with a Chinese gambling sponsor. Meanwhile, state-controlled Chinese media are still blacklisting Arsenal star and former German international player Mesut Özil. According to Cologne newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, the loss for the postponed deal was about $1.66 million.  The club did not offer comment but confirmed that the sponsors from China had withdrawn the potential deal, reported Deutsche Welle online. Cologne made headlines last month when they chose to postpone a joint academy with the Chinese soccer club Liaoning.  The
The man who brought the NBA to China
David Stern liked to tell the story of travelling China in 1990 when a local guide in Xian revealed her favorite team. “You know, I am a great fan of the team of the red oxen,” she told Stern and his wife, Dianne.  Cue confusion then smiles on realizing it was the Chinese translation for the Chicago Bulls. Nowadays, the whole of China knows the Zhijiage Gongniu, as they are known in Mandarin, and Stern is as more to credit for that than anyone – even their star player. “Without David Stern, the NBA would not be what it is today,” Michael Jordan, the six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls and talisman of that 1990 team, said after Stern’s death at the age of 77 on New Year’s Day. “He gu