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Gold medals to lose a little of their luster

Su Xiaochen
Updated: Jan 27,2015 7:57 AM     China Daily

China’s top sports body has decided to downplay the importance of gold medals in assessing the performance of local sports officials.

The State General Administration of Sport, China’s top sports governing body, said on Jan 26 that it will no longer rank provincial teams by number of medals earned at the National Games, the country’s biggest domestic sports event, or reward indirect contributors-local sports officials and supporting crews-for medal victories at the Olympic Games or Asian Games.

“The blind medal mania has distorted the value of sport, becoming a breeding ground for scandals that have hurt the image of Chinese sport and should be eradicated,” said the statement published on the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China.

As part of the country’s anti-corruption campaign, the watchdog sent an inspection group to examine the operations of the sports ministry and its affiliated centers from July to September. A series of malpractices and violations involving match-fixing, talent selection and event operations were discovered during the inspection, the statement said.

Many violations of the spirit of sportsmanship spirit can be attributed to the pursuit of medals at major events, because medals weigh heavily in the job evaluations and bonuses of local sports officials, according to Tan Jianxiang, a sports sociology professor at South China Normal University.

“Proper material rewards for athletes winning gold medals at the Olympics are reasonable. But if excessive prize money or job promotions are awarded, not only to athletes but to officials, major events might become breeding grounds for unscrupulous competition and even discipline violations,” Tan said.

“The progress of mass fitness participation, the growth of the sports industry and the development of professional leagues should also be included in the assessment system so that medals at major events won’t be considered the only criterion,” said Zhang Qing, founder and CEO of Beijing-based Key-Sports, a consultancy.