In recent years, the sport of hockey has been expanding rapidly in China, with the number of registered players increasing by over 70 percent since 2017. The country’s investment in the sport has also been significant, with the construction of new ice rinks and the formation of new teams. This expansion is part of the Chinese government’s plan to become a dominant force in the sport by the time they host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The Chinese government has been investing heavily in the sport, including a $500 million investment in the Kunlun Red Star, a professional hockey team that plays in the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). The team has attracted several NHL stars, including former Vancouver Canucks player Brandon Yip and former Anaheim Ducks player Devante Smith-Pelly, who are helping to develop the sport in China.
The government has also been building new ice rinks across the country, intending to have 800 rinks by 2022, up from just 200 in 2015. This will provide more opportunities for young people to learn and play the sport.
In addition, the government has established a training program to develop young players, to have at least 100,000 registered players by 2022. The program has already produced several promising young players, including Song Andong, who became the first Chinese player to be drafted into the NHL in 2015.
The growth of hockey in China has also attracted the attention of the NHL, which has been seeking to expand its reach in the country. In 2017, the NHL announced that it would play its first-ever games in China, with the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks facing off in Shanghai and Beijing. The NHL also launched a grassroots program to help develop the sport in China, to create more interest in hockey and developing young players.
The expansion of hockey in China is not without its challenges, however. The sport is relatively new in the country, and there is a shortage of experienced coaches and referees. The lack of infrastructure and funding is also a major issue, with many rinks in China not meeting international standards.
Despite these challenges, the growth of hockey in China has been impressive, and the country is on track to become a major player in the sport in the coming years. With the 2022 Winter Olympics set to take place in Beijing, the government’s investment in the sport is only likely to increase, and the world will be watching to see how the Chinese hockey team performs on the world stage.
In conclusion, the growth of hockey in China is a testament to the country’s commitment to developing sports and improving its global standing. With significant investment and the construction of new rinks, China is poised to become a major player in the sport in the years to come. While there are challenges to be overcome, the future of hockey in China looks bright, and the sport will undoubtedly continue to grow in popularity in the years ahead.