Earlier this year, MVP Kong Minghui slapped shot after shot into the net to lead her Harbin team to boast a final score of 51-0 at China’s national ice hockey championships. Despite the team’s victory, the pressure for China’s national team to score a medal in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing proves monumental. So monumental, in fact, the national hockey team’s hunger for a medal might lead them to bend citizenship rules and begin recruiting hockey talent from overseas.
Up until recently, China’s recruitment policy restricted players to naturalized Chinese citizens. Seeing as China doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, foreign recruitment remains limited, as players don’t want to have to renounce their previous, non-Chinese citizenship. With China contemplating bending their recruitment policy to supplement their national team, it hopes to be able to increase its pool of talent to score winning medals at the Olympic Games.
According to the editor of China Sports Insider, Mark Dreyer, China will likely recruit only foreign players with Chinese roots. With this policy, Chinese diaspora is encouraged and fostered. However, it still remains uncertain whether Beijing will grant citizenship to its new recruits, and whether China will continue to refrain from recognizing dual citizenship.
Even with this news of a new recruitment policy, foreign recruitment is not unprecedented. At the Canadian Women’s Hockey League final in March, China’s team incorporated Chinese players of both national and overseas descent. Within the South Korean men’s ice hockey team during the Games, seven out of 25 players were recruited from foreign nations, with a majority of them originating from Canada.
Acting the host country for the Olympics in 2022, both China’s men and women hockey teams will compete in the games. For the women’s hockey team, this publicity means an added emphasis on women’s elevated status as professional athletes. Many family members are supportive of the female team’s promising performance.
As a result of added pressure for the national ice hockey team to bring home a medal, China has compiled efforts to promote ice hockey and other winter sports. Both local and national governments have been investing in new facilities, training, and equipment during recent years, hoping to rally more prospects from China’s 1.4 billion inhabitants.
Regardless of how well the Chinese hockey teams perform in 2022, significant attention is paid to their recruitment policy, which may pave the way for updated sports policies within the country and around the globe.