More than 30,000 marathoners and sports fans gathered in Changchun, capital of Jilin Province, for an international marathon race at the end of May. The combination of the event and tourism industry has injected vitality into the city's ambition to become a major sports tourism destination in China, according to Changchun Sports Bureau.
Located in northeast China, Changchun boasts its rich ice and snow resources and a pleasant climate. It is also one of the two Chinese cities that are home to gold medalists of both Summer and Winter Olympics. The city's sports administration has explored various ways to encourage its citizens to participate in sports, which has yielded good results.
The annual international marathon race is on the agenda of the city's government report, which aims to attract more citizens to embrace a healthy lifestyle. About 70 percent of Changchun's revenue is invested in areas relating to its citizens' livelihood, so they can have a better taste of the city's development.
Changchun has the country's oldest bases for automobile industry and film production, and is the cradle of industries such as railway vehicles, photoelectric technology, applied chemistry and biological products. Thanks to its geographic advantage as the center of Northeast Asia, the city government is stepping up opening-up and revitalization, making tourism its pillar industry for development.
The city government has elevated sports as a top priority to build a "healthy Changchun" to improve awareness, fitness and living standard of its citizens, which has been recognized by the World Health Organization. Changchun's practice has offered useful reference in China's aspiration to become a "sports power".
Changchun citizens now can find a fitness site within eight minutes of walk, and talk to sports administrators in their neighborhoods. Besides, the government has reserved large tracts of land for sports facilities. Citizens can book sports venues and find gym mates online. The sport population in Changchun exceeds 51 percent, which provides an important foundation for the city's goal of building a top events and sports tourism destination.
Changchun is famous for the kindness from its people, and has hosted the international cross-country ski festival, Vasaloppet China, for 17 consecutive years. The city's landscapes, citizens' enthusiasm and humanistic environment have impressed marathoners from China and abroad over the past three years. The quota for this year's marathon, over 30,000, was booked up within 24 hours.
"The marathon race has deeply integrated with Changchun's urban characteristics, offering marathoners more opportunities for participation, training and tourism, as the sector expands," said Liu Haiyu, head of the city's sports bureau.
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