By Sportswriter Spencer Musick
BEIJING, June 17 (Xinhua) -- The first-ever BRICS Games will get underway on Sunday in Southern China's metropolis of Guangzhou.
The opening ceremony is set to take place in just a few short hours, so it is worth it to pause for a moment and reflect on how the BRICS grouping is creating space for more than just purely economic exchanges.
The 2017 BRICS Games, seen as a prelude to the upcoming 2017 BRICS Summit to be held in Xiamen, are a clear indication that economic and sporting development are closely linked.
And it is no coincidence that the first edition of the BRICS Games is being held in a year when China holds the rotating chair of the group. The Games themselves were suggested last year by Chinese President Xi Jinping as he attended the 2016 BRICS summit in Goa, India.
During that summit, President Xi compared the five BRICS economies to five fingers on the same hand.
Xi head of state in a country that is making great strides in the area of sports development and international exchange, and the BRICS Games are an opportunity for other emerging economies to take cues from China's leadership in this area.
Emerging economies are in a uniquely advantageous position when it comes to sports development and exchange.
Unlike in developed countries, where established and highly commercialized leagues suck up all the air in the room in many major sports, emerging economies must - by necessity - take a different approach. Countries like China view sports as, first and foremost, a matter of public concern that involves the people's happiness and welfare.
By competing in a spirit of friendly camaraderie with other developing and emerging economies at the BRICS Games, China will showcase its ability to harness the power of sports to make people's lives better at all levels of society.
This year's BRICS Games will comprise competitions in three categories: basketball, women's U20 volleyball, and Wushu.
China has sent a 53-member strong delegation to compete in the Games. All in all, some 300 participants from BRICS countries will take part.
The Tianhe Sports Gymnasium, Guangzhou Sport University Asian Games Gymnasium and the Guangzhou Polytechnic Sports Gymnasium will serve as the competition venues.