BEIJING, June 14 (Xinhua) -- China's sports governing body rolled out an unprecedented reform on Wednesday as it invited athletes from the Chinese diaspora to compete in the upcoming Chinese National Games.
Chinese who have obtained foreign citizenship, foreign decedents of Chinese immigrants and Chinese citizens who are residing abroad are now eligible to apply for participation in the 13th Chinese National Games, which will be held from Aug. 27 to Sept. 8, said Li Yingchuan, vice minister of China's State General Administration of Sport.
"We decided to invite high-level athletes from the Chinese diaspora to take part in the all the 26 competitive sports events of the National Games," he said.
The Games organizers will set up a special committee to check the eligibility of the applicants, according to Liu Xiaonong, director of the Competitive Sports Department of the State General Administration of Sport.
"They have to be competitive to earn the organizers' approval," he said.
This makes it possible for athletes like Alex Hua Tian, a London-based rider who renounced British citizenship to compete for China in the Olympics, to show up in the Chinese domestic national games.
"If we spot talent among the overseas Chinese athletes, and if they have Chinese citizenship, we will possibly recruit them in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games," Liu said.
Earlier this month, China set up an ice hockey team made of overseas Chinese in Vancouver, Canada.
"We formed this team to help out national team train and to compete with them regularly, so as to improve our players' level of competency," said Li.
China, which is using its domestic national games to prepare for its effort at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, will host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.