With the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics only seven years away, time is running out for China to get good at winter sports.
Earlier this year, in the hopes of one day hosting and winning a World Cup, Beijing implemented a wide-ranging master plan to get better at football, to get better at hockey, they are just going to try asking the Czech Republic for help.
The Mladá fronta Dnes via SB Nation reports that Chinese sports officials have requested that Czech Republic officials please help them improve at ice hockey so that they don’t make a fool out of themselves in 2022. Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka and other officials will visit China this week to sign an official memorandum for their partnership.
Simply hosting the Olympics doesn’t guarantee the Chinese a spot in the ice hockey tournament. Instead, the national team needs to rank in the top 18 worldwide. However, the men’s team is currently ranked 38th in the International Ice Hockey Federation world rankings, below Mexico and Israel, just ahead of South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.
The lone bright spot in Chinese hockey is Song Andong, who was the first Chinese-born player to be taken in the NHL Draft earlier this year. Unfortunately, while Song is a native Beijinger, he has lived abroad in Canada and the U.S. since he was 10 years old.
Across the entire country, there are now a grand total of 1,125 registered hockey players (almost double what it was in June). Earlier this year, China’s first class of hockey students graduated from the Sport University in Harbin. Behold, the future!