May 30, 2024

Ski's the limit: China's plan to build a winter sport culture • FRANCE 24 English

Published June 12, 2023, 7:20 p.m. by Jerald Waisoki

In china, all eyes are on the ongoing Winter olympics. Although the games have come under scrutiny for a number of reasons beyond sport, they are also the culmination of an impressive campaign to convert more than 300 million people into winter sport aficionados. Our correspondents report. We also speak to Susan Brownell, a professor of anthropology at the University of Missouri–Saint Louis.

#china #asia #olympics

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hello and welcome to access asia i'm

shao peregran coming up

beijing is hosting the winter olympics

but does this mean a winter sports

culture will stay once the olympians go


our reporters in china tried to find out

and just as the games are in full swing

punxhua speaks to western media for the

first time since she accused a

high-ranking chinese official of sexual

assaults she says it was all a huge

misunderstanding and finally a country

has lost its voice lata mangeshkar also

known as india's nightingale passed away

at age 92 leaving behind her a treasure

trove of bollywood songs

well let's start off this week in china

where all eyes are set on the ongoing

winter olympic games the events have

come under scrutiny for a number of

different reasons beyond sport

these games are also the culmination of

an impressive campaign to convert over

300 million people into winter sport

aficionados our correspondents in china

went to yanching district near beijing

to meet some of those who are now used

to putting on their skis and hitting the


by their own account they'd much rather

be skiing than working the land

the team is called the yanching peasant


they are farmers trained and equipped by

the local authorities

the team's captain langenge is a

farmer-turned ski teacher

and he's very proud the olympics are

taking place in his backyard

the aim of the authorities was to make

skiers of the local population but

there's no off peace chair in these

barren mountains it rarely snows

the olympic slopes just a few miles from

here have been made possible by snow

brought from elsewhere some estimates

say two million meters cubed of water

are required to cover them with snow the

equivalent of 800 olympic swimming pools

beijing's reservoirs have been pressed

into action to provide the water but the

chinese government is at pains to point

out the games are environmentally

friendly and despite dry conditions ski

tourism is beginning to take off

this group of friends are looking for

lodgings closer to the olympics for the


100 lodges like this one across the

region all are booked out during the

games and he's hoping it lasts


the hope is these olympics will be a

springboard for winter sports in china

official figures say there are already

300 million people taking part

so let's delve a little deeper here and

speak to an expert on sport in china

someone with both academic and athletic

credentials that says susan brownell

she's a professor of anthropology at the

university of missouri st louis she was

also a nationally ranked track and field

athlete in the u.s before she joined the

track team at beijing university in the

mid-1980s so thank you so much for

joining us here on france24

it's my pleasure thanks for having me so

we've we've seen a huge winter sport

infrastructure buildup over the last few

years the organizing committee of the

olympics says that since 2015

over 450 ice rinks have been built as

well as 300 snow resorts and close to 94

billion dollars in revenue were

generated by the winter sports industry

in 2020 so would you say that china's

reached its goal of becoming a winter

sports country

well i think it has built the basic

infrastructure it needs to become a

winter sports country

you know most of china is actually

pretty cold and and has snow and ice and

so there actually was already a pretty

wide participation base in skating in

particular because people could skate on

lakes and to a lesser extent skiing but

uh you know there were people in the

northeast who grew up skiing

it's just that now they're you know

building it up into a system that will

produce competitive athletes and is the

aim here purely economic is it just


finding new ways for the country's

growing upper middle class and and

richer class to spend its money or is

there something else going on here i

don't think the goal is necessary to

generate necessarily to generate more

money but it's to keep them happy

because there has been such criticism

for several um a couple of decades now

that economic development was pursued at

the cost of quality of life and

pollution was mentioned as one of the

big collect pieces of collateral damage

so now the party is spending more um

time and effort and money on trying to

improve the quality of life of the

citizenry so i think winter sports is

part of that effort

and is there not a political dimension

to this a soft power push to to give a

certain image of china around the world

like how how did you account for that


yeah there's also a soft power image to

hosting mega events and also um perhaps


showing that china has reached the point

of prosperity that it can support this

uh sort of


culture that exists um in europe and

north america where um which is

patronized by wealthy elites so i think

skiing in particular has that um

symbolism in in east asia and in china

and so you know demonstrating that china

uh can now support that sort of elite

leisured culture has its appeal as well

we'll have to move on to a different

topic now because there's one topic

that's uh sparked a lot of discussion

ahead of the games and that was that of

of pong shui as a reminder the tennis uh

chinese champion said in a social media

post that she had been forced to having

sex with a high-ranking government

official this post was quickly taken

offline and then pung disappeared from

public life and this led to a global

campaign inquiring about her well-being

and and whereabouts well after a string

of tightly controlled public appearances

the the tennis champion spoke uh to

french sports daily keep again in a very

tightly controlled setting um let's hear

what she had to say in that interview

and and then we'll get your reaction on

this on this latest development

i never said anyone had sexually

assaulted me in any way i never


it's just that so many people like my

friends or people from the ioc messaged

me and it was simply impossible to

answer so many messages

so professor brownell uh punxsui also

announced her retirement from

professional tennis in the same

interview what did you make of this

interview should we take this at face


i think we may never know the real story

behind pengshui but i will say that i i

cannot recall a case of an athlete being


at all


maybe i'm missing something so i do

think it would have been unusual if she

had been sort of detained pressured and

brainwashed while she was in detention

which is the worst that people have



i think we all know it's not unusual

that a woman makes an accusation which

probably is correct

and but then retracts it when

it goes public and she feels a sense of

shame about what has happened and that

certainly is the case in china where

something like this would be regarded um

with the chin uh the chinese proverb

jocho buwang

which means uh family shame should not

be made public

um i will say that

chinese high officials are known for

being sexually you know corrupt and the

communist party is actually pretty

conservative and prudish on that point

and so

cracking down on the patronization of

prostitutes and the

support of what they call second wives

has actually been a policy of the

communist party going on for decades so

i don't think the communist party would

regard this favorably to know that a

member of the politburo had had an

affair and um so uh i mean behind the

scenes i i think that uh the person

himself could be in trouble but

you know in the end we may never really

know what what happened behind the


professor susan brownell thank you so

much for that interview and we'll move

on now to the rest of the show

india's emblematic singer lata

mangeshkar known by millions as the

nightingale of india died on sunday at

the age of 92 she'd spent the past few

weeks in an intensive care unit in her

native mumbai suffering from covet-19

symptoms her instantly recognizable

songs were a permanent feature of

bollywood since the 1940s and heard in

more than a thousand films she came to

symbolize the voice of a nation james




songs have touched the hearts of

millions of indians over eight decades

she made her name in bollywood in the

1940s recording her first feature song

at the age of just 13.

her high-pitched and unique melodies

conveyed a range of emotions that still

speak to indians today

i grew up with a song only my parents

are a hardcore fan of her goosebumps are

coming we cannot believe that she is no

more with us

there was such a sweetness in her voice

it touched your soul every time she sang

prime minister narendra modi led

tributes for the singer known as the

nightingale of india

well arch she may not be present

physically amongst us

but her voice

and her love

will always be presented

born in 1929 in pre-independence india

mangeshkar began singing as a child

taught by her father


for decades hers was the voice of choice

for the lavish musicals with generations

of leading ladies lip-syncing along to

lata mangeshkar

her songs transcended religion politics

and social issues

with her debut release in 1942 her

popularity preceded the split between

india and pakistan and continues to

reach across the divide

pakistani prime minister imran khan was

among the first to praise one of the

truly great singers the world has known

one of the most recorded artists in

history estimates of her back catalogue

range from fifteen thousand to as many

as thirty 000 songs in some 30 languages

well that's all for access asia this

week but do stay tuned for more

programming on france24 thanks for




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