The Transformation of China's National Fitness Policy: From a Major Sports Country to a World Sports Power

Tien Chin Tan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


For most countries with developed economies, the increasing prevalence of a sedentary lifestyle has led to a decline in adolescents' physical fitness and increased risk of chronic disease and obesity. A common solution to this problem has been to encourage greater youth participation in sports and physical activities. However, there is little evidence to suggest that this approach has been successful. Since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, the development of elite sports in China has received increasing attention, reaching its climax during the Beijing Olympic Games, where China won the most gold medals. According to a study undertaken by Dong Xinguang, who designed the Outline of the National Fitness Program, China's success in elite sports has, to some degree, been built at the expense of the country's national fitness. This study focuses on the sport-for-all policy change, especially the changes to the Peoples Republic of China's (PRC) national fitness policy after an official speech delivered after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games by the president of the PRC, Hu Jintao, who, for the first time, mentioned the idea of changing from a major sports country to a world sports power. In an attempt to help assess the extent of change in China's national fitness policy, this study adopts the five policy change indicators (comprising organization, statutes, budget, personnel, and the media) developed by Hogwood and Peters and Juang. Furthermore, elite theory is adopted as our analytical framework to explain how the political elites have tackled the difficulties in promoting sports in China. Finally, our findings are presented in three parts: the driving forces behind the policy change, policy change reflected in the five dimensions, and the conclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1071-1084
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2015 May 24


  • China
  • Policy change
  • Sport-for-all
  • political elite
  • world sports power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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