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China’s State Council announces funding and tax measures to boost sports industry

The Chinese government on Tuesday evening announced a raft of measures to stimulate the country’s sports industry, including stronger intellectual property rights protection and tax incentives.

The measures build upon a strategy outline released by the country’s State Council two weeks ago which stated an ambition to accelerate the development of China’s sports sector.

Share prices of sports-related Chinese companies jumped on Wednesday morning in response to the news of the measures. On the Hong Kong stock exchange, sportswear firm Anta’s share price rose 4.2 per cent to HK$65.55 ($8.40), and rival sportswear company Li-Ning’s shares rose 3.78 per cent to HK$23.35 ($2.98).

The new measures, contained in a government circular entitled Opinions on Promoting Sports, Sports Consumption and High Quality Development of Sports Industry, are in the form of orders for various lower-level government bodies to implement. They cover:

  • Strengthening intellectual property rights protection for broadcasters and rights-holders
  • Increasing financial support for the sports industry
  • Tax deductions on research and development spending by certain sports enterprises
  • Fiscal and tax incentives for small and micro sports enterprises
  • Tax concessions related to property and land used for sports venues
  • Targets for integrating the sports industry with other industries such as medical services, tourism and education
  • Improving sports venue construction
  • Promoting sports-related consumption by launching more sports events that the public can take part in and extending the opening hours of public sports venues
  • Trimming bureaucracy at national sports associations
  • Allowing the private sector to bid in open tender processes for rights to hold sports events and manage government-owned stadiums and sporting facilities

The document also revealed the Chinese government is studying the launch of a Chinese sports industry investment fund.

Some of the measures align with a push to decentralise Chinese sports governance that has been gaining pace in recent years. There have been moves to replace generalist bureaucrats in sports association leadership roles with sports specialists. Chinese Football Association chairman Chen Xuyuan said after his appointment earlier this month that his first move would be to focus on making the Chinese Super League run independently, which is currently run by the association. Former National Basketball Association star Yao Ming was elected chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association in 2017, and has been pushing reforms to improve the Chinese league and youth academy systems. He’s gained support from basketball’s world governing body Fiba.

In July, a report by Chinese data intelligence company QuestMobile revealed that China’s General Administration of Sport and National Development and Reform commission expects total consumer spending in the sports and fitness industry in China to hit CNY1.5tn (€196bn/$221bn) in 2020.