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What are the 5 most popular sports in China?

With 1.4 billion people, China is a huge base of sports fans. Which disciplines are the most popular among them? Let’s find out with STATSCORE!

What are the most popular sports in China?

Sport is a massive business and an immensely popular form of entertainment in the world’s most populous country. From the traditional martial arts, through table tennis and badminton, to soccer and the enormously popular basketball – the Chinese are eager to participate in and follow tens of different disciplines. Let’s take a closer look at the most successful ones!

1. Basketball

Basketball is currently the most popular sports discipline in China, and according to some analysts, has already become part of the Chinese culture. This is seen mainly in the outstanding popularity of the world’s top league, the NBA, in the Middle Kingdom.

Hoops are a massive business in China and the NBA fan base is constantly boosting there.

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The craze has grown incredibly strong at the beginning of the century, in large part thanks to the Chinese player Yao Ming becoming a hall of fame player in the NBA. China has also hosted tens of the NBA’s Global Games, which are played to promote the sport outside of North America.

Apart from following the NBA, the Chinese have their own competition called the CBA, Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). The CBA was launched in 1995 and is currently contested by 19 teams playing in two divisions.

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2. Football (soccer)

Association football has been one of the most popular sports among the Chinese since it was introduced in the country in the early 20th century.

In fact, China has been seen as one of the countries where the game of football was first invented (5, 000 years ago).

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The sport is governed by the Chinese Football Association (CFA), and the top level of the competition is the Chinese Super League, which was established in 2004.

The CFA currently contested by 16 teams. It is the twelfth domestic sports league in the world in terms of average attendance (24,107 fans per game), and sixth-highest among soccer leagues (after Bundesliga, EPL, La Liga, Serie A, and Liga MX).

Football, including both national leagues and top foreign competitions, is widely covered by the Chinese TV stations. The Spanish La Liga and English Premier League are the leagues enjoy the highest popularity among the Chinese.

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3. Table tennis

Table tennis has been an immensely popular spectator sport among the Chinese, though data shows that the interest in the game is declining among younger generations.

In the 1950s, the Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who was a table tennis player himself, declared the game the country’s national sport. The discipline had even played its part in the political life of China through what was known as ping-pong diplomacy.

Today, with about an estimated 300 million players, table tennis (also known as ping pong) is the most popular recreational sport in China. China Table Tennis Super League is the top competition in the country.

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Chinese ping pong players are the most successful ones on the globe and have been regularly winning the world’s top tournaments, including the Olympic Games.

4. Badminton

Badminton is one of the favourite sports among the Chinese. China is also the most successful badminton team in the history of the game, having won the Thomas Cup 10 times and the Uber Cup 14 times.

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China Badminton Super League, founded in 2009, is the top tier of the sport in the country. It is currently contested by eight teams. Apart from professional leagues, the sport is also played in thousands of amateur competitions held across the country.

5. Esports

The popularity of esports is exploding in China, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made it stronger.

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With an estimated revenue of US$385 million in 2020, China is currently the world’s largest esports market.

In 2019, the Chinese authorities recognized “esports professionals” and “esports operators” as official job titles in the country.

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