Top popular sports in China

China, a nation deeply rooted in its culture and history, holds sports in high regard. Traditional and contemporary sports are an integral part of Chinese life, reflecting its rich heritage and modern dynamism. As China’s global influence continues to expand, understanding the sporting preferences of its people is crucial for businesses seeking opportunities in this burgeoning market.

Currently, basketball stands as the undisputed champion of sports in China, celebrated both domestically and internationally. Nevertheless, other sports, such as table tennis, badminton, football (soccer) and e-sports, are steadily gaining ground.

Sports hold immense significance in Chinese culture, providing leisure, competition, and health benefits. The government invests significantly in facilities, training programs, and events to promote physical fitness and national pride at all levels.

Chinese society places a high value on physical activities, deeply ingrained in its traditions and the overall sports culture. Notably, basketball has surged in popularity, captivating millions across demographics. Martial arts maintain a strong presence, given their historical importance.

Additional sports, like ping pong, badminton, football (soccer) and table tennis, enjoy widespread popularity among amateur and professional athletes alike. This diversity offers businesses opportunities for engagement through sponsorships and collaborations with local favorites.

China’s emphasis on athleticism dates back to Mao Zedong’s era, with the government actively involved in overseeing and funding sports-related affairs. The aim is to achieve international success, promote national fitness programs, and foster unity.

Major international sporting events, such as the Olympics and FIFA World Cup, have left a profound mark on China’s economy and sports culture. These events stimulate infrastructure investments, short-term economic growth, and provide a platform for Chinese athletes to shine, inspiring future generations.


Basketball has garnered massive popularity in mainland China, with over 300 million participants, as per the NBA. It particularly appeals to the young demographic aged 15 to 45 and presents a prime opportunity for businesses targeting this group.

Basketball’s appeal is more male-centric, partly due to the visits of NBA stars for exhibition games and business ventures.

Key Basketball Events in China

China hosts several prominent basketball events, including the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2019, a significant moment in Chinese sports history. It was hosted across eight cities, drawing millions of global fans. Other annual tournaments, like the Asia Championships and the CBA All-Star Game, further solidify basketball’s popularity.

Prominent Players, Teams, and Leagues

The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league and NBA games command substantial viewership. The success of Chinese NBA player Yao Ming has elevated basketball’s status among younger generations.

Table Tennis

Table tennis, or ping pong, holds a special place in China, boasting world-class players and events that attract global audiences.

Popularity & Demographics of Those Interested

Table tennis enjoys widespread popularity, with around 300 million players in China, making it the most favored recreational sport. This fast-paced game appeals to individuals of all ages and backgrounds.

In the competitive arena, approximately 2761 players represent the country’s 24 provincial teams, featuring balanced gender participation. Traditionally, table tennis has found favor among older generations, while sports like badminton attract a broader age range.

Key Table Tennis Events in China

Table tennis is considered China’s national sport, with key events like the China Open, an annual competition featuring top players worldwide. Domestic competitions like the China Table Tennis Super League and the National Games of China also draw significant fan support.

Prominent Players, Teams, and Leagues

Table tennis in China boasts stars like Ma Long and Zhang Jike, who have clinched multiple Olympic gold medals.


Badminton enjoys widespread popularity in China, with over 100 million players. It transcends age and social boundaries, making it accessible to recreational and competitive enthusiasts.

Key Badminton Events in China

China hosts crucial badminton events such as the China Open and the BWF World Championships. The nation’s athletes have consistently excelled, securing 11 Sudirman Cup titles.

Lin Dan, a renowned Chinese badminton player, holds numerous Olympic and World Championship titles. The National Badminton Super League (NBSL) is China’s premier badminton league, featuring six professional teams.

Emerging Sports

Football (soccer) and e-sports are gaining traction in China, attracting enthusiasts and fostering professional leagues.

Football (Soccer)

The Chinese Super League (CSL) has bolstered soccer’s popularity among younger demographics, contributing to its exponential fan following.


E-sports have surged in recent years, propelled by online gaming platforms and high-speed internet accessibility. This multi-billion dollar industry boasts millions of global fans, with major tournaments like League of Legends and Dota 2 hosted in China.

Sports are deeply ingrained in Chinese culture and history, with government support enhancing their significance. Chinese athletes, teams, and leagues have achieved international acclaim, further fueling sports’ popularity. This cultural and historical relevance, coupled with political influence, underscores the importance of sports in China.