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Can Eric Roza and CrossFit achieve their ambitious plan to dominate China in a new era of US geopolitics and COVID-19 ideology?


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As CrossFit begins its global dominance under the leadership of new CEO Eric Roza, who has just completed a European tour, the sport will undoubtedly find itself in an uphill battle in a region that is moving forward: Asia.

Roza’s post-pandemic landscape looks rosy in a number of emerging and westernized regions, but Asia’s different strategy when it comes to Covid-19 can prove to be a serious obstacle. China, which has been identified by Roza and the company as a large untapped market, finds itself stuck with its ‘zero Covid-19’ strategy, enduring lockdowns after lockdowns, trying to drive out the country’s variants with a vaccine that s has been shown to be low efficacy in Sinovac.

In an interview with the Hong Kong-based newspaper, the South China Morning Post In early 2021, before the pandemic hit, Roza launched an ambitious figure: 20,000 boxes in 20 years in China, compared to less than 100 currently.

China is in desperate need of its citizens to embrace fitness and encounter a demographic wave like no other, in which a once young population ages and retires with few replacements. This has been made worse by an obesity epidemic in the country, which in turn has led Chinese Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping to put more and more emphasis on sports and a healthy lifestyle, a concept entirely new to the once insular eastern empire.

The continent has been largely closed to foreigners since early 2020, and reports indicate the borders will not be reopening anytime soon. Reports from Chinese state media, controlled by the CCP’s propaganda branch, say that nothing will happen until the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, which will be held next February, and that it could happen. elapse at least 18 months before the CCP decides to allow foreigners to enter with any regularity.

China’s strict three-week quarantine even for residents, which also applies in some ways to its semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong, has essentially barred travel to the two areas for anyone other than the mainland. Thus Chen Aichan and Zhou Zhenhua, the first time that China had two mainland champion countries (Taiwan and Hong Kong have already won titles) find themselves crowned queen and king respectively, in a new era of much more difficult relations with the CrossFit based in the United States.

Tensions with the United States and China simmered somewhat under Democratic President Joe Biden, but the lingering tail of Republican Donald Trump’s battle with China has left lasting scars that could take years to mend. If Chen or Zhou were to qualify for the games, it would also pose visa issues to travel to Madison, Wisconsin, just as Russian athletes, notably Roman Khrennikov, have known in the past.

Prior to the pandemic, China had successfully held two Sanctionals, one in Shanghai and one in Chengdu, however, there appear to be few plans for CrossFit to try to host more official events or qualifying competitions on the mainland. . It could sprinkle cold water on a wave of middle-class Chinese citizens who engage in sports, as well as other more Western lifestyles that prioritize health and well-being, as well as social status and lifestyles. ‘picture.

CrossFit has a few tricks up its sleeve, however, with Gary Gaines, the company’s new and successful branch and international general manager in the United States, having previously worked for Lyft and Tesla. CrossFit is also well established in Hong Kong, where there are a number of boxes, and the area is home to Ant Haynes, who competed at the 2019 CrossFit Games and placed 27th.

However, without any relaxation of its strict Covid-19 rules, China will remain cut off from the world until it decides to shift to an endemic response to the coronavirus. Rays of hope are emerging as a number of other Asian countries that previously had similar strategies, such as Singapore and Malaysia, quickly realize that it is difficult to reach zero cases and that it is almost impossible to stay there.

China has proven to be a stubborn nation and its initial response to Covid-19, which featured instant lockdowns in 2019, was touted as world class, now appears outdated as North America and Europe have shifted widely reopened for business and travel.

If Roza and his company cannot even travel to China or try to host events on the mainland in the future, the sport of CrossFit will remain marginal at best and be unable to gain a foothold in the market when competing against. other traditional sports such as football, basketball and a growing running scene, which already have deep roots in the country.

The brands accompanying Crossfit, such as NOBULL and Wit, are also relatively new to the market and will not be able to break into the continent when faced with hitters as powerful as Nike, Adidas and Lululemon. With no way to set up brick-and-mortar stores, and heavy tariffs and sanctions still hurting China-U.S. Trade, the outlook is bleak unless a drastic change occurs. .

This also includes trying to get CrossFit stars, such as Sara Sigmundsdottir, Mat Fraser, Tia-Clair Toomey and new male champion Justin Medeiros to accompany companies on trips and entice clients. Chinese culture is remarkably similar to that of the United States when it comes to its burgeoning middle class, as its citizens love to follow and emulate their stars and heroes, as well as their feverish shopping and merchandise.

CrossFit’s outlook on China was optimistic, as Roza reported in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post in 2019. But we are now in the “new normal” of 2021 and unless China does. decides it is time to live with the virus and wants to recast its relationship with the United States regarding trade and ongoing geopolitical tensions, the country will no longer be a viable growth area for sport and will remain once moreover a forbidden kingdom.

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