The mascot Jinwa is seen at the opening ceremony of the 13th Chinese National Games in north Chinas Tianjin, Aug. 27, 2017. /Xinhua Photo
The 13th Chinese National Games, an quadrennial event dubbed as the countrys mini-Olympics, kicked off with a grand opening ceremony at the northern port city of Tianjin on Sunday evening.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who is in China to inspect the preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, were among those who attended the ceremony.
After President Xi declared open the event, a splendid performance featuring a mixture of high tech and culture, traditions and future, fireworks and light shows, was staged at the Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium.
Even the rainfall throughout the ceremony was unable to extinguish the passions of either the performers or the audience.
One of the most notable characteristics of the Tianjin games is that no medal table will be released. A total of 12,721 athletes will participate in 417 events of 33 sports categories - and there will be no official rankings either.
The absence of the traditional medal table indicates the countrys shift from the old trend of gold medal comes first, which has been dominating for decades. Medals have previously been excessively emphasized and, as a result, the essence of sports have been largely ignored.
It is also part of the countrys efforts to cast off the state-sponsored system, also known as the whole nation system in sports, which allocate the whole countrys resources to scout, train and select talents to the national teams.
The system is tightly bonded to the all-or-nothing pursuit of Olympic and World Championship gold medals. The backlash of such a system has distanced the public from sport, and has turned the sports field into a breeding ground for corruption and abuse.
The Tianjin Games will see the strictest ever discipline and supervision in place. The pursuit of medals with unjust and unscrupulous ways are utterly forbidden and there will be 2,900 anti-doping inspections, 12.6 percent higher than at any previous national games.
This years event is themed as National Games for a Healthy China and, for the first time in the history of the event, amateur athletes were invited to participate in the competition.
19 new events were newly added to the National Games for amateur athletes, including Tai Chi, chess, roller skating, rock climbing and dragon boat racing.
The performances at the opening ceremony also put emphasis on the concept of a Healthy China. This included table tennis and basketball dance performances by children, indicating Chinas belief in the value of sports in the younger generations education.
Public health was also a focus in the opening performance. In recent years, news of sudden death in people aged between 20 and 30 has been frequently reported. National fitness has also become a frequently debated topic on social media.
A dance program, using a projected keyboard for a stage, was also presented, aiming to raise the public attention on physical exercises. The popular Gangchangwu or square dancing was also included, and its performers are all the Chinese Dama, or middle-aged aunties who form the main force of the movement.
In 2014, nationwide fitness was elevated to a high level of national strategy. While encouraging the citizens to do sports on a daily basis, the country has also been improving the necessary facilities in order to make public fitness possible.
A government guideline released in 2014 has also pushed for accelerating the development of the sports industry and boosting sports consumption. Coming with the concept of Healthy China, the country has set a goal for the sector to grow in to an industry worth 800 billion US dollars by 2025.
Being a major sports country and one of the top players in the Olympics and World Championships, China is now aiming to become a sports power in other disciplines too. In pursuing this goal, a reform in both the system and national interest is indispensable.