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January 21, 2016

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Top official hints at city’s Olympic ambitions

SHANGHAI’S growing status as a venue for world-class sporting events makes it a prime contender to one day host the Olympic Games, the city’s vice mayor said yesterday.

“If there is another Chinese city (after Beijjng) that can host the Summer Games, it’s none other than Shanghai,” Zhao Wen told a meeting to review the city’s sporting achievements in 2015 and showcase the dozens of top-quality events planned for the year ahead.

It was the first time Shanghai’s top sports official had publicly expressed not only the government’s willingness to host the Games, but also its confidence in being able to do so.

“All of the international sports events and competitions (the city has hosted) have helped to present Shanghai’s image to the world,” Zhao said.

“We should not underestimate our own abilities.”

Though she stopped short of setting a time frame for a potential bid, it can be assumed that Shanghai won’t be hosting the global sporting event any time before 2028.

The latest edition of the Summer Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August, while the 2020 Olympics are scheduled to be held in the Japanese capital, Tokyo. The host of the 2024 event has yet to be decided, but will come from the short list of Budapest, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome.

Beijing staged the Summer Olympics in 2008 and will co-host the Winter Games with the north China city of Zhangjiakou in 2022.

Zhao said that Shanghai will stage close to 120 major sporting events this year, including the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix and Longines Global Champions Tour in April, an IAAF Diamond League event in May, the ATP Rolex Masters in October and the Shanghai International Marathon in November.

At the grassroots level, local authorities will continue to support amateur sporting events and organizations, as well as promote the development of new facilities, which includes the planned opening of 50 new jogging and walking routes, and 20 football pitches this year, Zhao said.

Promoting sports to the general public will be one of the major tasks for the Shanghai Sports Bureau in 2016, she said.

The bureau said also that it is considering the idea of creating several sports-themed parks over the next five years, with Chongming Island, Changxing Island, the Pudong New Area, and Fengxian and Songjiang districts among the front-runners to host them.


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