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September 8, 2009

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Get fit: It's a new regulation

CHINA is determined to make sports available to as many of its 1.3 billion people as possible, sports chief Liu Peng said yesterday in conjunction with the announcement of a new government regulation promoting access to fitness programs and facilities.

Since rejoining the international sporting community in the late 1970s, China has mainly focused on producing elite athletes, a policy that reached its zenith when the country topped the medals table at last year's Beijing Games. Just 28.2 percent of Chinese people regularly took part in sports, however, and the Olympics inspired the government to issue the new regulation to raise that figure considerably, Liu said.

"It clarifies that citizens have the right to participate in sports; that is the key point," Liu told a news conference in Beijing.

"Living in health and happiness is one of the basic rights of people. And taking part in sports is an effective way to acquire fitness.

"Sports are not just about moving your body, they are also a method of education, about lifestyle and ... related to our country's prosperity."

All schoolchildren will have to participate in at least one hour of physical education each day, while free instruction and facilities will be made available to encourage workers in both urban and rural areas to get active too.

Liu said 65 percent of the country's sports facilities, access to which is often severely restricted, were in schools and universities, and efforts would be now made to make them available to all students and eventually to the general public.


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