President Xi Jinping meets International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in Tianjin on Sunday. He told Bach that China's preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics are on target. Wu Zhiyi / China Daily
President Xi Jinping urged the country to develop into a strong sporting nation through the opportunities presented by hosting major events, before opening the 13th Chinese National Games in Tianjin on Sunday.
Xi made the remark at a commendation conference to honor outstanding figures in the country's sports sector before he declared the opening of the quadrennial National Games.
Sport carries the dreams of prosperity and rejuvenation of the Chinese nation as it represents a country's prowess and fortune, so China should quickly build itself into a world sporting power through dedicated planning and sound implementation, Xi said.
As Beijing prepares to host the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Xi urged the country to take advantage of the high-profile occasion to promote balanced development of competitive sports, mass sports and the sports industry to enhance the athletic prowess and improve nation’s overall fitness, Xi said.
Xi stressed that the country's sports development should address the public's growing demand for greater sports participation and higher fitness levels. The reform of including amateurs in the National Games program is a positive step, he added.
The Tianjin games opened 19 events to amateur participation, a first in the games' 58-year history.
Earlier on Sunday, Xi met with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, president of the Olympic Council of Asia, who both attended the opening ceremony.During his meeting with Bach, Xi said preparations for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are going smoothly.
Performers present a dragon boat race during the opening ceremony of the 13th Chinese National Games in Tianjin on Sunday. Fei Maohua / Xinhua
"We will fully honor our commitments that we made during the bid process and deliver a fantastic, extraordinary and excellent Winter Games," he said.
China will continue to support the IOC and cooperate with the IOC on issues including the Olympic Movement, sports' role in promoting world peace and development as well as the development of sports in China, he added.
After the Beijing Winter Olympics, Chinese city Hangzhou in Zhejiang province will host the 19th Asian Games in September 2022, maintaining the world sports exposure in China.
Xi pledged during his meeting with Sheikh Ahmad, the chief of Asian sports, that China will fully support Hangzhou's preparation for the Asian Games.
Sheikh Ahmad expressed his admiration toward Xi's foresight to promote Chinese sports and the international Olympic Movement, as well as his appreciation for China's long-term support to the OCA.
To honor contributors in the country's sports circles every four years during the National Games has become a routine since the seventh games in 1993.
More than 2,500 individuals and 3,300 units will be awarded for their contribution in developing high-level athletic talents and promoting mass sports participation during the Tianjin event.