Bao Yingjing, deputy governor of Shanghai's Jing'an district, speaks at the news conference for 2017 Westgate Mall Fencing Grand Prix Shanghai on Thursday. (Gao Erqiang/China Daily)
Fencers from all over the world will be competing in Shanghai this weekend at the Westgate Mall Fencing Grand Prix Shanghai.
This is the 15th year that the fencing tournament is taking place in downtown Shanghai's Jing'an district. The semi-final and final competitions will take place from May 20 to 21 in the lobby of Westgate Mall on West Nanjing Road.
This year, the event features 280 athletes from 29 countries and regions. China's 40-strong national squad will be taking part in the competition, with Chen Haiwei and Le Huilin being the highest-ranked male and female athletes respectively. Other prominent Chinese fencers include Chinese Olympians Lei Sheng and Zhong Man.
Considered one of the most high-profile sport events that takes place in Jing'an district, authorities said that the grand prix has effectively promoted the development of the sport through the years.
Apart from the grand prix, an amateur challenge match will also be held to boost public interest in the sport. Renowned fencers and their coaches will visit local primary schools and students will be invited to watch the grand prix competitions.
The popularity of fencing has grown rapidly in China since the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, according to Qin Jianqiu, deputy head of the fencing center at the General Administration of Sports of China.
In the past few years, a club contest mechanism for fencing was introduced to encourage more public participation. This initiative, along with international competitions such as the grand prix, has "accelerated the cultivation of young fencers and promoted public sports that can help to keep Chinese people healthy," said Qin.