China and the Olympic Movement
    2009-09-29 21:18:43       Web Editor: Sun Yang

The earliest involvement between China and the Olympics dates back to 1894 when Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern event, and the then Greek prince issued an invitation to Qing Dynasty rulers through the French Embassy in China. They asked them to send athletes to the first Modern Olympiad, to be held in Athens in 1896, but the Qing government didn't reply due to their unfamiliarity with sports events.

In 1904, some Chinese newspapers reported stories about the third Olympics, which were held in St Louis in the United States.

In 1906, a domestic magazine introduced the history of the Olympic movement to readers.

On October 24, 1907, the renowned educationist Zhang Boling delivered a speech on the Olympics after a sports meet in Tianjin. He said China should learn from European countries that sent their athletes to compete in the Olympics, regardless of the results.

After the fourth Olympiad concluded in London in 1908, Tianjin Youth magazine covered the history of the events and suggested that China should hold its own version. Some activists showed slides from the London Olympics and gave speeches on it.

Between October 18 and 24, 1910, the first Chinese national sports meet was held in Nanjing as part of the country's effort to participate in and host the Olympics at an early date.

The Far Eastern Championship Games, originally named the Far Eastern Olympics, was launched in 1913. As one of the founders, China participated in all ten Far Eastern Championship Games held from 1913 to 1934.

In 1915, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognized the games and invited China to join in the next Olympics and to attend IOC meetings.

In 1922, Wang Zhengyan, chancellor of China University and sponsor of the Far Eastern Championship Games, was selected to be the first Chinese IOC member.

In August 1924, the All-China Athletic Association was established as the first national sports organization. Later, China sent three athletes to participate in non-competition tennis events at the eighth Olympics in Paris.

Four years later, China named Song Hairu as its observer at the Ninth Olympics in Amsterdam instead of sending any athletes.

The IOC recognized the All-China Athletic Association in 1931 and China formally went onto the Olympic stage.

In 1932, the Kuomintang government intended to send Shen Siliang, secretary-general of the All-China Athletic Association, to visit the tenth Olympics in Los Angeles. The puppet government in Manchuria, supported by the Japanese, wanted to dispatch two athletes, Liu Changchun and Yu Xiwei, instead but Liu refused to represent them. The Kuomintang government finally sent a six-member delegation, including team leader Shen, coach Song Junfu and both Yu and Liu, who ranked fifth and sixth after the first rounds of the men's 100m and 200m races. Despite his failure in the qualifiers, Liu became China's first Olympic athlete.

In 1936, a 139-member delegation was sent to the 11th Olympic Games in Berlin, consisting of 69 competitors for athletics, swimming, basketball, football, weightlifting, boxing and cycling, 34 observers and 11 demonstrators of traditional martial arts. None managed to make it to the finals except Fu Baolu, who finished with 3.80m in the pole vault. After the Olympics, the martial arts demonstrators toured Denmark, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria and Italy, where they were warmly received and highly acclaimed for their performances.

In 1939, Kong Xiangxi was selected as the second IOC member for China.

After China won the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in 1945, Wang Zhengyan, Yuan Dunli, Dong Shouyi, together with other Chinese gymnasts, suggested China host the 15th Olympics in 1952.

In 1947, Dong Shouyi was appointed the third Chinese IOC member.

The 12th and 13th Olympiads had not been held due to the Second World War, but for the 14th Olympics in London in 1948, China dispatched a 52-member delegation, consisting of 33 contenders for track and field, swimming, football, basketball, as well as cycling events. The results were disappointing, as all were eliminated in the preliminary contests. What was more, the delegation had to borrow money to make it back home.

After the overthrow of the Kuomintang government and the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the All-China Athletic Association was reorganized into the All-China Sports Federation (Chinese Olympic Committee), and its headquarters moved from Nanjing to Beijing.

In February 1952, the federation expressed its willingness to the IOC to take part in the 15th Olympic Games in Helsinki. But an obstacle appeared when some Olympic committee members who had fled to the island of Taiwan with the Kuomintang claimed that they should represent China at the Olympics. On July 17, just two days before the opening of the games, the IOC passed a resolution inviting athletes from the People's Republic of China. Of them, only Wu Chuanyu got passed the qualifiers with a time of 1min 12.3s in the men's 100m-backstroke. The Chinese football and basketball teams played friendly games with their Finish counterparts.

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