Wanda Sports Holdings Co. signed a cooperation agreement with the Xiamen Municipal Government on December 24. Under the agreement, Xiamen will become the first city to host Ironman events in China.
Next November, World Triathlon Corporation's (WTC) flagship events, IRONMAN® 70.3® (1.9km swim + 90km cycle + 21.1km run), will be held in Xiamen, a coastal city in East China's Fujian Province. In next year's Xiamen event, 15 athletes will be given the qualification to attend the Ironman World Championship to be held in Kona, Hawaii in 2017. 50 will be qualified to attend the IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship. Xiamen is also expected to hold the IRONMAN® (3.9km swim + 180km cycle + 42km run) event in 2017.
Wanda completed acquisition of the WTC on November 19, 2015. This acquisition enables China to take ownership of a world-class competition for the first time. Wanda announced that some events on the worldwide Ironman race circuit prior to the Ironman World Championship, the biggest event on the extreme endurance sports calendar, would take place in major Chinese cities.
Due to the enormous impact the Ironman has in enhancing the city's image and promoting related industries such as tourism, a number of cities expressed their strong desire to host the competition.
Some of Chinese cities sent delegates to the 36th Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in October to learn from the experience and applied to host Ironman events. After a strict selection process, Xiamen, known as Hawaii in the East, stood out with its amicable climate, beautiful scenery and sports tradition. Xiamen residents are enthusiastic about sports and the city has been holding the Xiamen International Marathon, the most influential marathon event in China, for 13 consecutive years.
There are several triathlon events in China, but none of them are operated by WTC, which is the world's largest operator of Ironman events and the most well-known Ironman brand. WTC accounts for a 91% global market share of long-distance triathlon events.
Triathlons are regarded as the pinnacle of world sport. Officially included in the Olympic Games, they are comprised of three disciplines, swimming, cycling, and running, completed in succession. The schedule is not only a big challenge to athletes but also the host cities. It requires a city to meet the standards in terms of natural conditions, eco system, municipal governance, culture, citizen's quality, and more.
By 2016, 2-3 Chinese cities will be able to host Ironman's international events. The number of Ironman cities in China will further expand in 2017. Wanda aims to make Ironman the largest competition participation platform in China.