Chinese Wushu to be Added to 2022 Youth Olympics

traditional Chinese martial arts (source: Xinhua News Agency)

Chinese Wushu will become an event in the 2022 Summer Youth Olympics. The International Olympic Committee Executive committee approved the addition of the event. Together with Baseball5, Chinese Wushu will be added as new programmes that will be available for the next Summer Youth Olympics in Dakar, the first-ever Youth Olympics event to be held in Africa.

According to the International Olympic Committee, the Dakar 2022 Organising Committee asked for the two sports’ inclusion to the event. An IOC statement said that “the addition has the potential to further develop these two exciting sports in Africa.”

Wushu was an exhibition event during the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics and made its first adult Olympics debut in Beijing in 2008. Regular baseball will be featured at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Wushu and Baseball5 will be represented in five new events at the next summer Youth Olympics, but this will not affect the total gender equality at the Games. Baseball5 will become a mixed-gender team event. The sport includes five players each side and plays five innings. The sole equipment required is a rubber game ball. Each participating team will have four men and four women in this first mixed-gender Olympics team sport.

Wushu will be adding four events to the game. That includes men’s and women’s changquan, and men’s and women’s taijiquan. Both are parts of the Chinese traditional martial arts.

A number of other non-traditional Olympic events will be held in the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympics. These include break dancing, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing, and beach wrestling.

The event will be held in Senegal’s capital from October 22 to November 9, 2022. The event was initially proposed to take place earlier in May or June, but consultations moved the dates to better suit school curriculums. IOC officials also say that the current game dates coincide with Africa Youth Day on November 1, and will be beneficial for school students to have more time to contribute and participate.

Wushu under Cloud of Controversy

Chinese Wushu, also known as the kung fu, is facing a public backlash in China as Chinese MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong started a campaign to uncover fake kung fu masters by defeating them. Taijiquan, or commonly known as tai chi, was involved in several incidents with Xu. Several tai chi masters in China claim that the tai chi style has the ability to compete in a combative martial arts competition. These masters were later defeated easily by professional martial arts fighters, including a major defeat from Xu in less than ten seconds.

While those individuals may not be good representations of the Chinese martial arts, they nevertheless tainted the image of one of the most precious traditions that modern-day Chinese value. Those past incidents have put Wushu in a vulnerable position.

Critics are suggesting that MMA fighting and Wushu do not belong to the same competition. During an interview with Inkstone News, Chinese martial artists Chuanwang Zhou said that “martial arts is about developing a sense of honor and justice, character and spirit. Xu should go fight with other MMA fighters, not Chinese kung fu masters.”

Zhou’s argument is also validated in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Footages from an event show that the Wushu exhibition events were competed in a gymnasium-style venue. Contestants are showing the umpires and the audiences series of actions demonstrating their capabilities.

The addition of Wushu to the Youth Olympics will be a positive way to promote the sport. According to IOC spokesman Mark Adams, the addition of Wushu will advocate gender equality and promotion of the two specific sports in the region. “It is designed to play into our plans to have more gender equality and it is something that appeals to youth. Both sports enjoy a lot of interest in Africa and I think they will be a big success.” It is also an effective way to clarify the myths related to the traditional Chinese martial arts. Are they a real combat skill, or more of a sport to maintain health and build positive characteristics for practitioners?