Ironman expands to China after Dalian Wanda takeover

The Wanda Sports Holdings division of Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda has announced that Xiamen will become the first city to host Ironman events in China following its takeover of the triathlon series last year.

The new events are the first fruit of a cooperation agreement signed between Wanda Sports Holdings and the Xiamen Municipal Government. In November, World Triathlon Corporation's (WTC) flagship events, Ironman 70.3, will be held in the Fujian Province city on the east coast of China.

In this year’s Xiamen event, 15 athletes will be granted qualification to attend the Ironman World Championship to be held in Kona, Hawaii in 2017. Fifty will be qualified to attend the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

In November, Dalian Wanda closed a deal to acquire WTC, the parent company of the Ironman series. The $650m (€608m) deal for WTC was first announced in August and further strengthened Dalian Wanda’s position within the global sports industry.

Dalian Wanda acquired a 100-per-cent stake in WTC and is seeking to develop the sport of triathlon in China over the coming years. Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin had previously confirmed at least three Chinese cities will host Ironman events in 2016.

Wanda Sports Holdings said a number of cities had expressed strong interest in hosting an Ironman event, with Xiamen selected due to its “amicable climate, beautiful scenery and sports tradition”.

There are several triathlon events in China, but none of them are operated by WTC, which is the world's largest operator of Ironman events. WTC accounts for a 91 per cent global market share of long-distance triathlon events.

Wanda Sports added that the number of Ironman cities in China will further expand in 2017 as part of a goal to make Ironman the largest competition participation platform in the country.