Alongside the names of Spark, SkyCity, McDonald’s, Toyota and Emirates, keen-eyed America’s Cup fans might see a less familiar name on display.
In the latest round of sailing, the brand livery of China Sports Industry Group has been introduced as a key sponsor, appearing on the sail of the Team New Zealand boat.
The brand, largely unknown in New Zealand, was a latecomer to the sponsorship party, only being announced an official partner on January 15 this year.
China Sports Industry Group is a Chinese-owned firm established in 1998, as a joint initiative between the All China Sports Foundation, the Chinese Lottery Centre and China’s National Sports General Administration Fund Centre.
The company is listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, with a market cap of around CNY10.5 billion (NZ$2.26 billion).
Employing more than 800 staff, the company focuses on the management and development of sports venues and events largely in China. But it is also looking to strike key partnerships in important sporting events.
While the company is relatively unknown in New Zealand, its partnership with New Zealand sailing predates the current America’s Cup.
In late 2019, China Sports Industry Group collaborated with the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Emirates Team New Zealand to reinvigorate the youth America’s Cup.
In a statement released at the time, Chairman of China Sports Industry Group Wang Weidong said the event was designed to give young Chinese sailors experience of competition at a global level.
“We hope that Youth America’s Cup will be the first step for these young Chinese talents to take as they strive to catch up with their leading peers in the world,” he said at the time.
“We hope the Youth America’s Cup becomes a unique opportunity to encourage more Chinese to try and practise in this sport and inspire them to initiate the evolution of the Chinese sailing industry.”
The event was initially scheduled to start in China with fleet racing in November 2020 and then continue in February and March in Auckland.
Due to the impact of Covid-19 and New Zealand’s strict immigration restrictions, the event was, however, cancelled in September last year.
China Sports Industry Group’s efforts in the sailing space aren’t limited to the America’s Cup.
The firm is also involved with the Volvo Ocean Race and China’s City Club International Regatta.
Interest in sailing is growing in China and the country had ambitions to enter a team at this year’s event.
Last month the Herald revealed Team New Zealand is seeking overseas bids to host the America’s Cup, should it successfully defend the Cup.
At the time China was tipped as a possible location for the event.
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