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Asia Minute: Surf’s Up on China’s Hainan Island

This summer’s Tokyo Olympics marked the first time that surfing was part of the games. This past weekend, the sport made another debut appearance in Asia — part of a growing trend.

China’s state-run media are reporting on surfing this week.

It’s part of a broader story — the 14th Chinese National Games — held once every four years.

The games officially get underway Wednesday — lasting for nearly two weeks and involving more than 12,000 athletes and 54 sports.

For the first time, surfing is one of those sports — drawing 50 competitors from 13 teams, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

The surfing competition actually took place this past weekend on Hainan Island off China’s southern coast.

Hainan is the southernmost province in China — roughly the same latitude as Hawaiʻi Island.

It’s also the location that pops up if you search on the internet for “China’s Hawaii.”

Both the men’s and women’s winners of the surfing competition — and three of the four finalists — are all from Hainan Island which is the center of China’s fledgling surf culture.

The island was featured in a recent reality tv show about a Chinese actor, singer and dancer who learns to ride the waves on a program called “Summer Surf Shop.”

Local media say that’s helped to increase visitors—while also boosting demand for another local business: surfing lessons.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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