• AFP-Jiji

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The Ultimate Fighting Championship will help train a range of Chinese Olympic athletes to get them in shape for next summer’s delayed Tokyo Games and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics under a deal announced on Wednesday.

Although UFC-style mixed martial arts is not an Olympic sport, the U.S.-based promotion has reached a “multi-year” agreement with the Chinese Olympic Committee allowing the country’s best athletes to draw on UFC expertise and use its multimillion-dollar performance institute in Shanghai.

Zhang Weili, China’s first and only UFC champion, is among those who have been using the facility since it opened in June 2019. China is a major growth market for the UFC.

Chinese Olympic athletes in a number of sports including swimming, cycling, speed skating and track and field have already been working with the UFC for the past 18 months, it said.

Chinese competitors will be able to tap into UFC’s knowledge of strength and conditioning, sports science, physical therapy and nutrition.

“UFC is proud to partner with the Chinese Olympic Committee and be a valuable resource for their athletes,” said Kevin Chang, its Asia-Pacific senior vice-president.

“UFC built this (Shanghai) facility to demonstrate its strong commitment to China and to serve elite-level athletes who want to develop their skills and achieve excellence in their respective sports.”

The Tokyo Games were shifted from this summer to next because of the coronavirus pandemic, meaning the Beijing Olympics will take place just six months later.

“We are delighted to work with the UFC and send elite athletes to the UFC Performance Institute Shanghai to take part in physical and recovery training,” the Chinese Olympic committee said.

“We hope UFC’s scientific training system provides help for Chinese athletes to prepare for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.”

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