History of the National Games of China

Article by Martin Zhao

The National Games (also known as the All China Games) will be held for the first time in Xi’an in autumn of 2021, the 14th such games to be held since the first event was held in Beijing in 1959. The event is held every four years and consists of many different sporting events, similar to the Olympics. Teams from different provinces, as well as branches of the military, compete for medals in each of these events.

In terms of level and scale, the National Games are the largest integrated sports event in China. The National Games are a demonstration of the organization and development of the country. Xi’an’s ability to host these games marks a significant milestone in its development.

The Games will undoubtedly have a far-reaching influence on many aspects of the city; economically, socially, and culturally. As a Xianese person, I am more than proud and cannot wait to personally experience and appreciate the big event in this historic city where I was born and brought up.

While we cannot wait to see the 14th National Games in Xi’an, I would like to introduce and highlight the National Games previously held in other places of China to help you appreciate the full picture of its evolution and increase your expectation for the wonderful game this time.

The 1st
National Games

Time: Sept.13-Oct.3, 1959
Place: Beijing
The first largest-scale all-around games since PRC was founded.
Some 24 allies (including Former Soviet Union, Former Democratic Germany etc.) had their delegations shown in the opening ceremony.
A significant number of military events such as parachuting, gliding, marine modeling etc. were included.

The 2nd
National Games

Time: Sept.11-Sept.28, 1965
Place: Beijing
Repeatedly broke the national record, breaking the most records in history of the national games; 130 national records in total including 10 world records were broken.

The 3rd
National Games

Time: Sept.12-Sept.28, 1975
Place: Beijing
Delegation representing Tai Wan for the first time participated.
It was 10 years since the 2nd National Game due to the “Cultural Revolution”; it was determined that the games would be held every 4 years as determined by the State Physical Culture and Sports Commission.
Athletes representing Guangdong province for the first time won the most Gold Medals, beating athletes representing the PLA, who had dominated the previous 2 games.
Equestrian show, Swing show were included as the show events. The 3rd game had most show events in history of the national games.

The 4th
National Games

Time: Sept.15-Sept.30, 1979
Place: Beijing
The 4th national games awarded the most medals in the history of national games; 1409 Medals in total among which there were 469 golden medals, 471 silver medals, and 469 bronze medals.
The soccer was honored as the one of the most significant and popular events and the soccer team representing Shandong province took the defensive counterattack tactics and for the first time won the championship.
Some team members including Yin Tiesheng, Xu Yonglai etc. were selected into and became the mainstays on the Chinese National Soccer Team.

The 5th
National Games

Time: Sept.18-Oct.1, 1983
Place: Shanghai
For the first time the National Games were held in a place other than Beijing.
“Spiritual Civilization Award” for the first time was awarded.
The late IOC president Samaranch and other 24 other IOC members attended;
The events in the 5th National Game were set by referring to the Olympic Games. Events such as Judo, Windsurfing, Field Hockey, Rhythmic Gymnastics, etc. for the first time were included.

The 6th
National Games

Time: Nov.20-Dec.5, 1987
Place: Guangdong
For the first time, a mascot and anthem were introduced.
Different scoring formula was applied, Olympic events were weighted more than Non-Olympic events.
Began using the market to sponsor, organize, and operate the National Games;
For the first time in history, it is the provincial government that established a service cooperation raising the funds for the National Games;
The emblem and mascot copyrights for the first time were franchised, a milestone for commercializing big sports;

The 7th
National Games

Time: Sept.4-Sept.15, 1993
Place: Beijing (Co-hosted Sichuan Province and Qin Huangdao city)
For the first time in history, the game is co-hosted by Beijing and Sichuan.
Some events like Go, Radio Direction Finding, Aviation, Marine Model etc. have since been excluded.
Lots of retired Olympic champions reappeared on the national games, with their experience they won medals as a way to contribute the provinces in which they grew up, it is also called “National Game Phenomenon”

The 8th
National Games

Time: Oct.12-Oct.24, 1997
Place: Shanghai
80,000 well-trained volunteers registered to serve the National Games which is unprecedented in the history of the National Games;
The much-anticipated stadium which can hold over 80,000 audience officially opened.

The 9th
National Games

Time: Nov.11-Nov.25, 2001
Place: Guangdong
Lots of young athletes started to become famous, including the world badminton champion Chen Ying, the world swimming champion Luo Xuejuan who broke the world records etc.
The performance/achievements in quite a number of events in the game have reached the top level of the world.
It witnessed high-level competition in events like gymnastic, shooting, weight-lifting, badminton, table-tennis, diving etc. Which reserved for future outstanding athletes.

The 10th
National Games

Time: Oct.12-Oct.23, 2005
Place: Jiangsu
In terms of the events, the National Games is totally in line with Olympic games, including the whole 28 events in Summer Olympic Games and 3 events in Winter Olympic Games.
Liu Xiang representing Shanghai, won the 110m men’s hurdle championship in the National Games the previous year in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, he won the 110m men’s hurdle first gold medal in track and field with the world record.

The 11th
National Games

Time: Oct.16-Oct.28, 2009
Place: Shandong
Highlight: 50 Anniversary for the National Games;
The largest scale, highest-standard nationwide sport games after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Game
The largest number of athletes participated in the 11th games;

The 12th
National Games

Time: Aug.31-Sept.12, 2013
Place: Shenyang
Highlight: For the first time the games
were held in Northeastern part of China;
Hold the game in a thrifty way, transitioning away from athletic sports for competition to popular sports for all, making the National Games in line with the Olympic Games;
The games were held to for the common people

The 13th
National Games

Time: Aug.28-Sept.8, 2017
Place: Tianjin
Highlight: More common people participated in and enjoyed the games.
Minimize the importance of medals.
More events for non-athletes;

The 14th
National Games

Time: Sept.15-Sept.27, 2021
Place: Xi’an
For the first time, the The National
Games will be held in the western
part of China;