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date: 17 September 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Due to the Orientalist bias in sport history in the West, starting in the late nineteenth century, “Far Eastern civilization” was defined in terms of its lack relative to “Western civilization,” which (it was said) valued sports and created the Olympic Games. This chapter begins by outlining some of the similarities between classical Greece and China and proceeds to trace the course of China’s encounter with the West through sports up to the present. Western sports were introduced into East Asia by the YMCA, but China turned them to its own goals during Ping Pong Diplomacy. The pursuit of Olympic medals made the position of wushu (traditional martial arts) ambiguous. Inside China, hosting the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing was called the fulfillment of a “one hundred-year dream,” symbolizing that China had finally been written into world history and was no longer defined by its sporting deficiency relative to the West.

Keywords: China, Beijing, Olympics, Chinese sport history, ancient Chinese sports, wushu, martial arts, Far Eastern Games, Ping Pong Diplomacy, Orientalism, International Olympic Committee

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