Tianjin Polo

Show Polo: Add cracks and a winning polo tradition to the list of things money can’t buy.

The Chinese like to watch Argentines playing polo. Or maybe they just want to be seen in public looking at Argentines playing polo. While some local cracks were playing matches this season on the warm beaches of Argentina and Uruguay, another group was getting ready for China’s first “Snow Polo” tournament which started yesterday.

The Goldin Cup tournament is being held at Tianjin Metropolitan Polo Club in Tianjin, and the Chinese hosts invited teams from Argentina, Australia, England, France, New Zealand and Hong Kong to participate.

The tournament is being contested this week on the two polo fields of the Metropolitan Club, a 220-acre residential development with a 167-room hotel and polo club where memberships start at US$50,000.

And while the event may generate some good publicity for the project, Reuters’ Maxim Duncan says it’s more about establishing street cred for Chinese polo. Inviting teams from the world’s best polo countries was part of the strategy, but the towering ice sculpture backdrop leaves one feeling this is more Show Polo than Snow Polo.

At a moment in time when we are seeing the massification of polo and efforts to broaden the game’s appeal in cities like London, Miami and New York, the Chinese are moving in the total opposite direction: Trying to make the game as elite, status-soaked and unattainable as possible for the country’s nouveau riche to enjoy.

One of the Chinese businessmen Duncan interviewed summed up the arrogance perfectly: “There may be a lot of high-level people who have made a lot of money very quickly, but that doesn’t mean they have reached a level of culture where they can appreciate this.”

Show polo, anyone?  (Full Story)

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