Emirates Team New Zealand is sponsored by a few big brands. Photo / Getty Images
Next to the names of Spark, SkyCity, McDonald’s, Toyota and Emirates, savvy America’s Cup fans might see a less familiar name displayed.
In the final round of sailing, the China Sports Industry Group brand livery was featured as a key sponsor, appearing on the sail of the Team New Zealand boat.
The brand, largely unknown in New Zealand, arrived late at the sponsorship evening, not having been announced as an official partner until January 15.
China Sports Industry Group is a Chinese company established in 1998 as a joint initiative of the All China Sports Foundation, the Chinese Lottery Center and the National Sports General Administration Fund Center of China.
The company is listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, with a market capitalization of approximately CNY 10.5 billion (NZ $ 2.26 billion).
Employing more than 800 people, the company focuses on the management and development of sports venues and events mainly in China. But he’s also looking to secure key partnerships in major sporting events.
While the company is relatively unknown in New Zealand, its partnership with New Zealand sailing predates the current America’s Cup.
At the end of 2019, China Sports Industry Group collaborated with the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Emirates Team New Zealand to revitalize the America’s Cup for young people.
In a statement released at the time, Chinese Sports Industry Group Chairman Wang Weidong said the event was designed to give young Chinese sailors an experience of competing on a global level.
“We hope that the Youth America’s Cup will be the first step for these young Chinese talents as they strive to catch up with their peers around the world,” he said at the time.
“We hope that the Youth America’s Cup will become a unique opportunity to encourage more Chinese people to try and practice the sport and inspire them to initiate the evolution of the Chinese sailing industry.”
The event was originally scheduled to start in China with fleet races in November 2020, and then continue through February and March in Auckland.
Due to the impact of Covid-19 and strict immigration restrictions in New Zealand, however, the event was canceled in September of last year.
The efforts of the China Sports Industry Group in the field of sailing are not limited to the America’s Cup.
The company is also involved in the Volvo Ocean Race and China’s City Club International Regatta.
Interest in sailing is growing in China and the country had ambitions to enter a team for this year’s event.
Last month, the Herald revealed that the New Zealand squad were looking for overseas bids to host the America’s Cup, should they succeed in defending the Cup.
At the time, China was identified as a possible location for the event.