Beijing: China will send 431 athletes, including 24 Olympic champions, to the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games.
The figures were confirmed as the Chinese delegation was unveiled in Beijing on Wednesday.
The delegation, including 298 female athletes and 133 male athletes, will compete in 225 events at the Games, which is scheduled to open on July 23 in Tokyo. Among the 24 Olympic champions in the delegation, 19 claimed golds at the 2016 Rio Olympics while 293 athletes will make their Olympic debut.
“This is the largest ever Olympic delegation China has sent overseas,” said Gao Zhidan, deputy director of China’s State General Administration of Sport, adding that the delegation has a total of 777 members, including 30 foreign coaches and almost all members have taken COVID-19 vaccines.
Quan Hongchan, 14, who will compete in the women’s diving event, is the youngest of the delegation, while the 52-year-old Li Zhenqiang from the Chinese equestrian team will be the oldest Chinese athlete to be featured at the Games.
Women’s shot put world champion Gong Lijiao, two-time taekwondo Olympic gold medalist Wu Jingyu, men’s shooting world champion Pang Wei, Olympic race walk champion Liu Hong and Olympic trampoline silver medalist Dong Dong are among the most experienced athletes in the delegation as they are on their fourth Olympic trip.
China expects a haul of gold medals from traditionally strong sports such as table tennis, badminton, gymnastics, weightlifting, shooting and diving.
“The aim of the Chinese delegation is to remain competitive in the gold medal tally. The total number of golds of our Chinese delegation in each Olympics have been declined since 2008, and we want to stop this trend in Tokyo,” said Liu Guoyong, secretary general of the Chinese delegation.
“We also need to ensure zero COVID-19 infections in our delegation during the whole Olympics, and we will follow all the rules required by the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee,” Liu added.
The Chinese table tennis team, which has won all four golds of the sport in Rio, is aiming to defend its honor this year.
“We have worked hard for five years. For the old players, the Tokyo Olympics might be their last battle, and I hope they can fulfill their wishes. As for young players, I hope they could leave the burden and build new glories,” Liu Guoliang, president of the Chinese table tennis association (CTTA), said.
Brand-new events such as surfing and rock climbing make their debuts in Tokyo, and 20-year-old Song Yiling will participate in the women’s rock climbing competition. “Tokyo will be my first Olympics. As a young athlete, I will be myself and try my best,” she said.