China to mark Games anniversary with "Fitness Day"

Wed Aug 5, 2009 1:21am EDT
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BEIJING (Reuters) - China has decided to mark the anniversary of the opening ceremony of last year's Beijing Olympics by making August 8 an annual National Fitness Day, sports minister Liu Peng said.

Getting more of China's 1.3 billion people involved in sport was one of the legacy aims of the Olympics, the first anniversary of which will also be marked by the playing of Italian soccer's Super Cup at the Bird's Nest national stadium on Saturday.

Liu said China's State Council would soon promulgate the necessary regulation to establish the nationwide activity day.

"We will further promote the mass participation of sports by constructing sports facilities, supporting grassroot sports organizations and organizing sports activities with localized features," Liu told state news agency Xinhua.

Former Games official Jiang Xiaoyu said it was important to build on what had already been achieved since last year's sporting extravaganza.

"The successful Games has greatly ignited people's enthusiasm in sports," Jiang, vice president of the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG), wrote in Wednesday's China Daily.

"The Games helped increase the number of sport facilities and the people who exercise regularly, with the sports industries seeing a rapid growth.

"Our national sports strategy should now aim at ensuring that people are physically fit, have better health and enjoy a healthier life.

"We should include more people in the national fitness program and provide them with more and better sport services," he added.

In a survey by researchers Millward Brown undertaken earlier this year, 64 percent of respondents said they ran or jogged, 48 percent played badminton, 37 percent basketball and 36 percent table tennis.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by John O'Brien)