For Chinese Athletes, Western-Style Perks

“As China embraces capitalism, its athletic teams are cashing in.” From the Washington Post:

The national men’s field hockey squad, for one, has been eager to collect. Twenty years ago, before the rise of China’s market economy, the team didn’t stand to win prize money or sponsorships. Competitions were for the glory of the country, not the kind of fame lavished on athletes in the West.

Today, with the Olympic Games in less than four months away, the team is sponsored by Nike. It has an expert coach from South Korea, expensive protective equipment made by a U.S. firm and access to a professional psychologist through the state sports administration…

The shift spans the panorama of Chinese sport. Tennis players who once barely eked out a living can now earn as much as $100,000 a year. Even the lowliest college team is part of a tiered economic system of sponsorships, incentives and bonuses. In Beijing, the University of Aeronautics and Astronautics track team is sponsored by a tire company. One distance runner said he stands to receive a bonus of more than $14,000 if he wins at the national level.

See the video of a Chinese coach of the national Olympic gymnastic team via Washingtonpost.com:

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