Dongguan, China, 29 November 2018 – Over 200 sports industry executives from mainland China and around the world were at Mission Hills Resort in Shenzhen, southern China this week for the return of ‘Sports Connects’.

Leading Chinese sports, media and tech firms including Tencent, Weibo Sports, Wanda Sports, SECA, China Sports Media, Netease and Gemdale joined international counterparts on stage from NBA, NFL, WTA, The R&A, AEG, New Zealand Rugby, Hong Kong Rugby Union, Visa, AIA, UBS, Bose and more.

Highlights of the three-day China Sports Forum included three major golf announcements, a live stream to 1.1 million viewers and fun networking including a Golf Day and Bowling Night.

Tenniel Chu, Group Vice-Chairman of Mission Hills said: “This was another important gathering for the China sports industry, one which we hope to make a fixed annual event.  At a sensitive time for international relations, it is important for our industry to come together and demonstrate how sport can create friendships, bridge divides and unite cultures.”

Jasper Donat, CEO of organisers Branded commented:  “With a truly bilingual programme and 50 percent of attendees from mainland China, we achieved our objective of bringing together an impressive mix of domestic and international stakeholders from the world of sport.  With 35 high-quality speakers also in attendance and some key topics addressed, this was another milestone appointment for the China sports industry.”

Features of the programme included:

  • Two golf announcements from Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, including a new golf scholarship programme in China with Mission Hills and SECA, plus a new Rules of Golf app in Chinese
  • A third major golf announcement from PGA of America’s Head of Global and Corporate Strategy, Arjun Chowdri that the first PGA of America Golf Academies in China will be launched in Shenzhen and Hainan as part of a multiyear partnership with Mission Hills
  • A live-streaming session with global sports media property, the ONE Championship – featuring heavyweight world champion Brandon Vera – that attracted 1.1 million live views
  • Regular references to the buzzword “Springtime” when describing the emerging nature of the China sports industry, including Eddy Liu, CEO of Gemdale Sports who is bringing the WTA tennis finals to Shenzhen starting in 2019
  • A keynote interview with Derek Chang, CEO of NBA China which explored the potential growth of one of China’s most popular spectator sports with 38 million followers on Weibo Sports alone and a new Bytedance partnership announcement announced that day
  • Case studies on sports sponsorship from high-level executives at AIA, Bose, UBS and Visa
  • Insights into China’s leading role in the rise of esports from Tencent, Netease and Culture Group
  • Round-table sessions with iSportConnects, Mass Participation Asia and Weibo Sports, with Zhou Tianyi of Weibo Sports reporting 3.2 billion video plays during the 2018 Winter Olympics
  • A study on international sports coming into China with the NFL, WTA, New Zealand Rugby, Hong Kong Rugby and Genius Sports
  • A look at the shortage of high quality “city defining” venues in Asia, according to AEG Asia, KPMG and Wanda Sports


With a bowling night at Mission Hills Centreville and golf day also on the agenda, delegates had plenty of opportunity to enjoy the facilities at Mission Hills Shenzhen, one of two luxury Mission Hills resorts spanning 40 square kilometres and 22 golf courses, making it the world’s largest golf facility.

Sports Connects, the China Sports Forum was presented by Weibo Sports, ONE Championship, Mission Hills China, Mailman, and Branded and was sponsored by KPMG, Culture Group and Genius Sports.

Photo Caption:

Highlights from the 2018 ‘Sports Connects’ China Sports Forum at Mission Hills Shenzhen resort in southern China.

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