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10 Most Popular Sports in China You Should Know

In this most populous country in the world, finding the most popular sports is relatively easy. Prominent names among them must be table tennis and volleyball. In addition, there are many other famous sports.

There are many sports in China, but only a few of them have become popular. Let’s look at the top ten most attractive sports, which millions of Chinese people love and pursue.

1. Running


In China, running is very popular. More than 20 million Chinese have jogged the village roads and streets claiming Runner’s World. Besides, running is one of the top exercises for 44% of Chinese athletes.

Most Chinese athletes are between the ages of 36-45, followed by those between the ages of 25-35. In addition, the number of officially sanctioned competitive races held in the country is on par with countries like Japan or the United States. In 2022, there were more than 100 marathons in China.

2. Basketball


In this most populous country, basketball is one of the king sports.

Among the ancient monuments are the remnants of the basketball courts from the past. The modern rhythm of Chinese people’s life also always has the presence of basketball.

Basketball courts are present in every corner, from urban to rural areas. Every school has a basketball court for students to play. Workers choose basketball as entertainment after a stressful working day.

According to estimates by the Chinese Basketball Federation, about 300 million people in China play basketball regularly. This number is equivalent to the population of the entire United States.

3. Football


Another popular sport in China is football, with around 700 million people playing each year.

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About 5,000 years ago (Han Dynasty), the Chinese invented a game called Cuju. Then, the World Football Federation (FIFA) officially recognized it as the oldest version of football today in 2004.

These days, Chinese television networks cover many football matches, including top international and domestic leagues. In particular, Chinese fans like the English Premier League and Spanish La Liga the most.

4. Badminton


Badminton has also been one of the most famous Chinese sports for many years.

This sport in China retains a large number of viewers. The number of badminton players in China is also extremely high. They estimate that more than 100 million Chinese play badminton.

Since the Olympics in 1992, China has won 41 medals of all kinds as of 2016. This is a remarkable number compared to other teams. Others also have high achievements in badminton in the Olympics.

Even more impressive is that the total number of gold medals in badminton at China’s Olympics is 18 out of 34 gold medals awarded between 1992 and 2006.

This proves that the number of medals won by China has more gold medals in the Olympics than all other countries combined.

5. Table tennis

Table tennis

Table tennis is the national sport and embodiment of Chinese culture.

Statistics from the China Table Tennis Federation (CTTA) recently showed that about 80 million Chinese consider table tennis a popular sport for entertainment and exercise.

The sport began to expand its reach in the 1930s in the barracks. It officially became China’s pride, after tennis player Rong Guotuan became the world champion in 1959.

In 1988, the Chinese sports delegation participated in the Seoul Olympics and won 5 gold medals. 2 out of 5 precious gold medals were in table tennis. Since then, table tennis has crept into every Chinese family.

6. Electronic Sports


China, one of the world’s largest economies, is also the world’s largest esports commerce market.

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Over the past decade, China has established itself as one of the absolute leaders in both developing, publishing, and organizing esports tournaments.

The country is home to world champions in several games and some of the biggest esports companies in the world.

China’s eSports market revenue in 2022 has grown 14% compared to 2021. And China’s competitive eSports industry will also be short of at least two million talents within three to four years due to rapid growth.

Shenzhen aims to become a global e-sports hub by promising cash rewards and subsidies to gamers.

7. Volleyball


Women’s volleyball is an addictive sport in China. The Chinese women’s volleyball team is one of the top women’s volleyball teams, having won the World Cup four times (1981, 1985, 2003, and 2015), the World Championship twice (1982, 1986), and three times Olympic champion (in 1984, 2004, and 2016).

For many years, China has always been the women’s volleyball team as the top candidate for the championship at the tournaments they participate in.

After winning in Rio and continuing to dominate in international tournaments, athletes like Zhu Ting are now well-known in China.

8. Swimming


Swimming is a popular sport in China. As per capita income increases, the local government invests in building more new swimming pools to meet the increasing needs of the people.

In 2016, 40 degrees Celsius also caused the swimming pool in Suining to be overloaded with 6,000 people crammed. Meanwhile, the beach in Dalian, eastern China, welcomed thousands of people.

9. Square dance

Square dance

Square dance is quite popular in China. Be sure to take a stroll through a city park if you ever travel to China. You can see square dancers in:

  • People’s Square, Shanghai
  • Dai Goose Pagoda, Tay An
  • Temple of Heaven Park, Beijing
  • People’s Park, Chengdu
  • Binjiang Road, Guilin

This dance requires less effort and experience, so many elderly choose them. For those who have never danced before, it can be a bit of a learning curve, but once you try it, you’ll be able to keep up in no time.

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10. Martial arts

Martial arts

Martial arts have developed over a long historical period in China. Today, it is considered a traditional sport that is becoming popular. It is even representative of Chinese culture.

Over the centuries of development in China, martial arts has become a system that includes many different schools or sects. Up to now, more than 300 types of martial arts exist across the country.

Wushu and Kung-fu are in the general education curriculum of many schools.


What sport is China best at?

China holds a dominant position in sports such as table tennis (with Ma Long being the world’s No. 1 table tennis player), badminton (with top players like Lam Dan or Tham Long), and Kung-fu.

What sport originated in China?

Football is a sport that originated in China. In addition, skiing, golf, and surfing are also among the sports that have originated in China.

What are the big 3 sports?

The three most popular sports in the world:

  • Football: with more than 3.5 billion fans.
  • Cricket: with more than 2.5 billion fans.
  • Table tennis: with more than 850 million fans.


In addition to the sports listed above, China has many other popular sports like Go, shooting, etc.

Each sport has different benefits. You should try them all when coming to this country. For more features of Chinese culture, visit our website!