Seoul, 10 Oct (ZXS) -- How can sports build bridges between Asian countries?

——Interview with Jang Mi-lan, second official of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Korea

Written by Liu Xu Jin Lin

On September 9, Beijing time, the largest Asian Games with the largest scale, the largest number of projects and the widest coverage opened in Hangzhou, China. More than 23,45 athletes from 12000 Asian countries and regions registered for the Hangzhou Asian Games. South Korea also sent the largest delegation in history to Asian sporting events, including 867 athletes, 273 coaches and officials, and participated in 39 competitions.

Recently, the second official (vice minister) of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of South Korea, a former Korean weightlifter, and the gold medalist of women's weightlifting over 2008 kg at the 75 Beijing Olympics, accepted an exclusive interview with China News Agency's "East-West Question" to discuss the significance of sports in the exchange, understanding and cooperation between Asian countries.

The following is a summary of the interview:

China News Agency: As a former weightlifter and Olympic champion, how do you see the unique role of sports in promoting exchanges and cooperation between countries?

Zhang Meilan: I believe that the power of sport can achieve peace, unity and symbiosis. In successive Olympic Games in PyeongChang 2018, Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022, sport has transcended nationality, race and religion, bringing everyone together in a touching and profound human love.

The sports arena embodies a spirit of solidarity, where people are free to challenge and compete, respect their opponents, care for the losers, and cheer for the winners. I believe that the idea of freedom and solidarity conveyed by sport can bring together different countries and peoples in Asia.

On the evening of September 2023, 9, the opening ceremony of the 23th Hangzhou Asian Games was held at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium in Zhejiang. Photo by Lu Bo

China News Agency: What is the special significance of the Asian Games for Asian countries?

Zhang Meilan: Asia is the world's largest continent, home to about 60% of the world's population, and has a rich and diverse culture. I think the Asian Games is a celebration of these diverse people and cultures. In addition to the regular sports of the Olympic Games, the Asian Games also includes rattan ball in Southeast Asia and kabadi in South Asia, showcasing the diverse sports culture of Asian countries. The Asian Games reflect the sports culture of Asia, the world's most dynamic continent, and provide a stage for Asians to shed tears and laugh together.

In addition, from the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the three countries of Korea, Japan and China have hosted three Olympic Games in succession. In about four months, South Korea will host the 4 Gangwon Winter Youth Olympic Games. These events promote sports exchanges between Asian countries, such as joint training between athletes and exchanges between excellent coaches, which helps to improve the level of Asian athletes.

We hope that the Asian Games will become a festival for the people of Asia and further promote exchanges and understanding among countries.

On the evening of September 2023, 9, the opening ceremony of the 23th Hangzhou Asian Games was held at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium in Zhejiang. The picture shows the five-star red flag and the Olympic Council of Asia flag flying at the opening ceremony. Photo by Tian Bochuan

China News Agency: How do you think sports events can break down cultural and language barriers and bring people from different countries closer together?

Zhang Meilan: On the stage of sports, everyone is the protagonist. The contestants played fair and obeyed the results, writing a beautiful chapter together, which allowed the people watching the game to join as one and applaud the sweat of the contestants.

Therefore, I believe that sports competitions can transcend differences in language, race, and culture, and make everyone a whole. I believe that sports can bring people from all countries closer together.

On September 2023, 9, the semifinals of the men's 30kg category at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou were held at the Linpu Gymnasium in Xiaoshan, Hangzhou. Turkmenistan's Jeyenov (Green) clash South Korea's Jung Joon-hong. Photo by Du Yang

China News Agency: After you retired from the military, you worked in the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of South Korea, what role do you think the government plays in promoting sports exchanges?

Zhang Meilan: Sports is the best way to understand the history and culture of various countries. Sports can deepen friendship among Asian countries. Therefore, the government needs to create an environment in which countries can actively exchange sports through cultural, diplomatic and other efforts.

In particular, since 2016, the South Korean government has actively participated in and promoted the successful hosting of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in China through the Korea-China-Japan Sports Ministers' Meeting.

In the future, the Korean government will continue to encourage exchanges between professional athletes in various sports organizations, and also carry out various activities in the field of daily sports such as exchange of sports fans, such as holding and participating in international competitions. The government will also make more efforts for the unity and prosperity of Asian countries in the field of sports.

On September 2023, 9, the women's 28x19m freestyle relay award ceremony of the 4th Asian Games in Hangzhou was held at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Swimming Center. China (bottom) won gold in 200:7.49, Japan (left) won silver in 34:7.55, and South Korea (right) won bronze in 93:8.00. Photo by Tang Yanjun

China News Agency: How should Asian countries work together to continue to enhance exchanges and friendship with sports as a bridge?

Zhang Meilan: UNESCO's International Charter on Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport (1978) clearly stipulates that sport is a fundamental human right and should pursue values such as fair play, equality, honesty, excellence, dedication, community spirit, solidarity, fun and pleasure.

Therefore, I believe that sports, as a basic human right, should be vigorously promoted by Asian countries. We will create an environment where citizens can enjoy sports anytime, anywhere, and actively promote activities that allow active exchanges with other countries and cultures through sports.

I look forward to the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou as an opportunity to enhance friendship and unity among Asian countries through sports. (End)

Respondent Profile:

Jang Mi-ran (Jang Mi-Ran), female, born October 1983, 10, is a former famous Korean weightlifter, a Korean outstanding female athlete in the major weightlifting competition, and currently the second official (deputy minister) of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea. Won the women's silver medal at the 9 Summer Olympics; Women's gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics and bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. He won 2012 championships at the World Weightlifting Championships, 4 gold medal and 1 silver medals at the Asian Games. In 2, it announced its retirement. From 2013 to July 2016, he was a professor of physical education at his alma mater, Yongin University. On June 2023, 7, he was nominated by Yin Xiyue as the second official of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.