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Study on the Promotion of Mass Fitness and Recreation in Beijing and the Improvements in the Level of Service for Public Sports

Study on the Promotion of Mass Fitness and Recreation in Beijing and the Improvements in the Level of Service for Public Sports


In 2011, the Beijing Olympic City Development Association studied Beijing’s construction as a city for international sports, and analyzed how to promote developments in the industries of mass fitness and recreation, as well as how to improve the quality of public sports service. The association discussed the role of nonprofit social public organizations in the promotion of mass fitness and recreation, the increased availability of public sports products, and the satisfaction of people's increasing demand for sports
Firstly, constructing a sports power raises new requirements for undertakings in the development of sports and the sport industry.
On September 29, 2008, General Secretary Hu Jintao put forward the goal of “Further promoting our country from a sports country to a sports power”, at the Awards Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, directing the development of sports into a new era. 
Realization of harmonious development between competitive sports and mass sports:
After the Olympic Games, mass sports and competitive sports together have become common themes in the development of sports throughout China. The promulgation and implementation of the National Fitness Regulations provides both the policy basis and a good opportunity for the development of mass sports. Pushing the government to perform public functions and constructing the public service system, from the ground up, have been important breakthroughs in developing mass sports. The construction and utilization of fitness facilities has allowed the public sports service system to create the driving force necessary to develop mass sports.
Promote the harmonious development of sport-related undertakings and the sports industry:
Mass sports, fitness, and recreation refer to kinds of social activities involving physical exercise that people use as the basic means to achieving physical and mental satisfaction, self-cultivation, self-realization and perfection during their free time. They are integral parts of the undertakings in the sports industry. In 2010, the General Office of the State Council promulgated the Guidance on Accelerating the Development of the Sports Industry, providing an important opportunity for the development of the sports industry. In the Outline of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development, the concept of "Promoting the harmonious development of sports-related undertakings and the sport industry" is put forth, which expands the room for developing the mass fitness and recreation industry.
The development of sports culture is an essential part for building a sports power. The correlation between sports and politics, economy and culture, is increasingly high, which reflects social productivity and the soft strength of culture. Sports culture is one of the windows that can be used to judge the degree of civilization, and is an important part of overall culture. It integrates the political influence, economic productivity, cultural communication, and social affinity that are necessary for the construction of an advanced socialist culture. Promoting socialist cultural development and prosperity includes the promotion of sports development and prosperity.
Secondly, analysis of Beijing’s construction as an international sports city
To build a city into an international sports center comprehensive social competitiveness must be emphasized, from the levels of infrastructure, economic development, and social development, to the quantity and quality of the population. The level of development in the consumer service industry and the development of the cultural arts related to sports must reach the reference level of global cities.     
(I) Foundation for building Beijing into an international sports city
Stadiums and other infrastructure are improved significantly. Beijing has many Olympic venues, the Olympic Park, Longtan Industrial Sports Park, Chaobai River Aquatic Sports Center, etc. It has a layout in which there are large sports themed parks in the north and south, but also features fitness parks in the east and west. 
Growing participation in sports activities by general public. Fifteen years after the implementation of the National Fitness Regulations, Beijing, the capital of China, has initially formed a diversified national fitness system with characteristics of Beijing. The degree of mass sports socialization has risen substantially, and the social sports organization network has been greatly improved.
Continue to host high level sporting events; the brand benefits are showing.
The market operation level for sporting events such as the China Open, the Tour of Beijing, etc., is improving, which helps develop a favorable environment for sporting events.
Sports industry has moved on the fast lane. The rapid development of competitive sports will boost such industries as competitive performance, sports supplies, and   entertainment and fitness. The sports industry increases in value by an annual rate of 15%, making it vital to the promotion of economic development in the capital city.
The influence of Beijing and the degree of internationalization in sports are constantly improving. With the pace of Beijing’s urban construction accelerating, the international influence of the city is on the rise, which will help to further promote the construction of an international sports city.
(II) Gap between Beijing and first-class International Sports Cities
After successfully hosting the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Beijing has become an international sports city. However, compared to New York, London, Paris and other worldwide first-class international sports cities, Beijing still lags behind in the following aspects:
Public sports facilities cannot meet the multiple-level sports consumption demands. Although Beijing has the Bird's Nest, Water Cube and other high-end stadiums, public sports facilities for urban and rural community are relatively insufficient. The exercise venues popular with the people are especially inadequate.
The proportion of the population involved in sports and the organization level of sports are low. Due to the lack of exercise venues and sports organizations the degree of organization is not high, and the proportion of the population actively involved in sports is low.
The lack of top international sport games, clubs and stars: Although the China Open has had certain positive influences, the development of football, volleyball and basketball is relatively backward, and the number of regular top games, clubs and stars in Beijing is still limited. 
The quantity, quality and overall strength of sports enterprises are significantly low. The overall strength of Beijing’s sports industry is not strong. There are no sports groups or listed companies taking the absolute lead, and there are few sport enterprises with annual sales revenues exceeding 100 million Yuan.
There is a lack of diversified, cultural sports exhibits and experience space. Beijing has not yet a highly open city with international reach and strong voice over the global sports affairs, and it also lacks a certain number of multicultural international sports demonstration and experience spaces.
There is a lack of local sports media with international influences. There are no powerful local media outlets with the widely influential reach or the dominance to match the media outlets already in the world’s sport community, such as National Broadcasting Company, American Broadcasting Company and Columbia Broadcasting System in United States, as well as The Times, The Guardian, etc.
(III) Beijing’s public sports service system should be further improved.
The gap between Beijing and the first-class international sports cities highlights the need to improve the public sports service system.
The allocation of public sports service products is not balanced. This is mainly reflected in the unbalanced distribution of sports stadiums, facilities, and the low openness of private sports facilities to the public. Sports facilities’ resources are not evenly distributed throughout the industry, and geographic location, subordinating relations and function types, make it difficult to meet the normal demands for fitness.
Government investment is still insufficient. Although Beijing has increased the investments made in the development of mass sports during recent years, the people’s demand for sports has not been satisfied. Breakthroughs can still be made for mass sports activities in the form of innovation, broadening the influence, and participation.
The willingness is low for private investment. Mass sports have not yet formed the desirable situation of having "the government as the head, the public as the main body, and private organizations as the heart". There are events such as basketball and swimming where, due to the high investment and slow return, the private investment in these particular public sports is not high. Instead, private investors tend to be in favor of medium to high-end consumption fields, such as tennis and golf, causing the uneven support of social resources in public sports service.
Thirdly, to improve the public sports service system and construct an International Sports City
The construction of an international sports city raises the comprehensive strength of a city and country. The powerful public sports service system can best reflect the city's overall strength and is the foundation for building an international sports city.
(I) Function orientation of the government in the public sports service system
Public service is a kind of social redistribution that is naturally open to the public, beneficial to their needs, and provides social justice. It reflects social strength and a comprehensive social competitiveness. The Major Decisions of Central Committee of the CPC on the Construction of a Harmonious Socialist Society clearly states the goal as: “to construct a service-oriented government, strengthen social management and public service functions”. 
The key to the construction of the public sports service system is system development. In the process of changing from an "omnipotent government" to a "service-oriented government", China’s sports management system will transform into the public sports service system, to reflect systematic service to the industry and the general public, and the socialization of service organizations.
Generally speaking, the public sports service system includes three categories of government functions:
First, supervision and management reflect the government's administrative functions, including the development and implementation of public sports service policies and legal regulations, macro-regulation, administrative coordination, qualification certifications, etc.
Second, pure public sports service, as it involves the public interest, generally does not reflect the nature of the market economy, such as: public sports facilities, the construction of sports infrastructure, etc. Pure public sports service is mostly provided by the government, but the support of nonprofit social organizations, enterprises, and individuals is also encouraged.
 Third, the quasi-public sports service is mainly targeted at individuals and special groups, where individual benefits are larger than the public benefits. Because personal consumers are competitive, private organizations and enterprises provide this kind of public sports service.
In the construction of the public sports service system, the government should define its roles.
First, the government should become the manager of the sports industry. The industry should be controlled and managed through the implementation of various laws and regulations, and the operations of sports and recreation should be managed, supervised and standardized. The sports consumption and service system shall be gradually established and perfected, and the healthy development of the sports industry shall be guided. 
Secondly, the government is a sports coordinator. Through the support and guidance of public sports organizations and the development of commercial sports organizations, the government should be aimed at contributing to the cooperation between a variety of organizations, and between those organizations and the government.
Thirdly, the government is the provider of mass sports service. Direct government intervention into the public sports domain provides free or low cost public sports and recreation products, in order to satisfy the needs of national recreational interests and fulfill the requirements of the national fitness program. The government’s direct involvement in sports and recreation services is mainly limited to the basic recreational facilities, which are deemed economically unviable by commercial organizations.
In the above three kinds of roles, the government should mainly focus on the administrative roles, which shall be supplemented by the roles of coordinators and service providers, so as to transform from an "omnipotent" government to a "service-oriented" government, and construct the public sports service system in a scientific and efficient manner.
(II) Positioning of nonprofit sports organizations in the sports public service system
The construction of the public sports service system requires the transformation of government functions, unleashing the potential of existing physical culture, the setting up of a system that matches current international practice, and adapting to the modern developments in sports, in order to avoid a "government failure" in the provision of public sports services. This requires strengthening the mutual cooperation between the government and nonprofit sports organizations, and exploring the possibility of provision of public sports services by organizations of different nature. The government shall transfer specific services as specified in the public sports service system to the corresponding nonprofit sports organizations according to needs. As to the large number of public services regarded as quasi-public, for goods that the government cannot afford, the nonprofit sports organizations shall take their place when the market fails to solve the problems itself.
Nonprofit sports organizations are independent from the government, provide social services through sports-based volunteer work, and help to promote the development of sports. The organizations can effectively mobilize volunteers to dedicate time, attract social sponsorship and donations, and share the burdens of government in providing public sports services. These are the important social forces for the construction of a public sports service system.
(III) Relationship between the government and nonprofit sports organizations in the public sports service system
In the process of building Beijing into an international sports city, the force of government plays a decisive role. In terms of public sports services, the nonprofit sports organizations and the administrative power are not only inter-dependent of each other, but are also partners with each other.
The government purchases services from nonprofit sports organizations and gradually establishes a project-based contract management system, which should be one of trends in the construction and development of China’s public sports service system. In terms of pure public sports services and quasi-public sports services, the nonprofit sports organizations can effectively make up for the lack of government investment. The government can purchase public sports services from the nonprofit sports organizations, such as: physical fitness activities, competitive activities, demonstrations, national fitness consulting, training sports personnel, health education, and other professional services. These projects can be subject to public bidding, project contracting, project application, commissioned management, etc., which shall be assumed by nonprofit sports organizations. Therefore, it will not only encourage their participation in public affairs, but also can reduce the burden of government. At the same time, the governmental departments can formulate corresponding management systems and standards, provide fiscal support for nonprofit sports organizations through tax exemption, the transfer of land, land leases at base prices, absorb social resources to participate in public sports services, and accelerate the construction of an international sports city. While encouraging the nonprofit sports organizations to play a positive role in public sports services, the government should also supervise them through taxation, auditing and other relevant departments.
When the nonprofit sports organizations are directly involved in the public sports service, they can influence the mass media, provide the government with information and references from continuous analysis and research results to aid in decision-making processes which can help promote the development of public policy in the field of sports. Nonprofit sports organizations can also give full attention to their role, maintain good value orientation, advocate positive volunteer spirit, and expand the citizens’ dedication to public service. More importantly, it provides an important way for the citizens to participate in public affairs.
Fourthly, to give full play to the role of Beijing Olympic City Development Association and boost the Construction of Beijing International Sports Central City
Beijing Olympic City Development Association is a nonprofit sports organization, which is meant to carry forward the Olympic spirit, expand Olympic achievements and promote the sustainable development of Olympic and Paralympic undertakings in the city. It is one of those that contribute to public sports services. It should play an important role in implementing the developmental strategy of “Environment-friendly Beijing, Culture-enriched Beijing, and Technology-empowered Beijing”, whiles promoting the construction of Beijing into a world city; a city recognized for its international sports culture.
The Beijing Olympic City Development Association should be committed to serving the construction of a world city and an international sports city, and should obtain the understanding, permission, and support of the government. While participating in the construction of the international sports city, Beijing Olympic City Development Association can assist the government in the implementation of the relevant plans, policies and regulations, and provide public sports services and products to make up for the deficiencies of the government in this area. However, for the government, it may sometimes be more efficient and cost-effective to take advantage of the resources owned by Beijing Olympic City Development Association to address issues about public sports services during the construction of the international sports city.
Beijing Olympic City Development Association can make full use of international resources, consolidate and expand communication with the world, influence the mass media, provide information and reference for the government to make decisions in the field of sports culture through continuous analysis and research and promote the construction of the public sports service system. Beijing Olympic City Development Association can also advocate and maintain dedicated public service, encourage respect for equal rights, as well as the concerns and care of people, nature and society through public welfare action.
When the time is ripe, it is necessary for Beijing to rely on the Olympic Center to construct an "Olympic Fitness and Recreation Center", making it a comprehensive leisure center integrating sports, culture and entertainment into one place to showcase the diverse international sports culture of Beijing by providing effective facilities and services for mass sports. In terms of design and construction, a combination of indoor and outdoor facilities can be adopted, including comprehensive sports area, service area, shopping areas, etc. The comprehensive sports area can accommodate basketball, five-a-side football, badminton, table tennis, tennis, chess and other fitness items. It can also allow for film screenings, performances, exhibitions, cultural activities, etc., and can become the platform for community residents to participate in sports and recreational activities. The service area provides voluntary services such as referees, coaches, trainers, and is equipped with the national physique monitoring sites, providing book bars, food, health care, and other public services. The shopping area provides sporting goods, small supermarkets, drug sales, lottery outlets and other convenient shopping facilities and services.
 Beijing Olympic City Development Association can make use of the advantages in their own office location, professional advantages, the roles of non-profit organizations, etc., in order to fully participate in the construction of the "Olympic Fitness and Recreation Center", and participate in the construction of the public sports service system through the management of the center. Beijing Olympic City Development Association can hold diversified club activities in the Olympic Fitness and Recreation Center to form an operating system for the mutual coordination and support of the center and sports organizations. The association actively develops members and constructs a management system in the Olympic Fitness and Recreation Center, including health measurement and assessment, goal setting, fitness exercise prescription and exercise plan formulation, and forms stable consumer groups. Various sports activities and new fitness activities that can attract different groups shall be launched, such as water aerobics, dumbbell exercise, soft volleyball, plank curling, etc., and grassroots events shall be organized, with the center as the base. A resident sports training base shall be built, to ensure a healthy lifestyle for the residents through training sessions with sports instructors. A resident physique-monitoring center shall be built, and items such as 2.4km running and 2 km walking will be provided in the center to provide physical fitness monitoring services.

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