China has one of the oldest sporting cultures in the world. There is evidence that a form of association football called cuju was played in China during the Han Dynasty. Today, some of the most popular sports in the country include martial arts, basketball, football, table tennis, badminton, swimming and snooker. Board games such as go (known as weiqi in China), xiangqi, and more recently chess, are also played at a professional level.
Physical fitness is widely emphasized in Chinese culture, with morning exercises such as qigong and t’ai chi ch’uan widely practiced, and commercial gyms and fitness clubs gaining popularity in the country. Young people in China are also enjoy soccer and basketball, especially in urban centers with limited space and grass areas. The American National Basketball Association has a huge following among the Chinese youth, with ethnic or native Chinese players such as Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin held in high esteem.In addition, China is home to a huge number of cyclists, with an estimated 470 million bicycles as of 2012. Many more traditional sports, such as dragon boat racing, Mongolian-style wrestling and horse racing are also popular.
China has participated in the Olympic Games since 1932, although it has only participated as the PRC since 1952. China hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where its athletes received 51 gold medals – the highest number of gold medals of any participating nation that year. China also won the most medals of any nation at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, with 231 overall, including 95 gold medals. China hosted the 2013 East Asian Games in Tianjin and will host the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing.