Chinese Language Blog

Chinese Vocabulary – Summer Olympics Posted by on Aug 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

Every four years, the eyes of the world are on the Summer Olympics (夏季奥运会 – xià jì ào yùn huì).  This year, the games are taking place in Rio de Janeiro (里约热内卢 – lǐ yuē rè nèi lú), the first time the games have been held in South America. The slogan for the 2016 Olympics is “A new world” (一个新世界 – yī gè xīn shì jiè). Over 11,000 athletes representing 206 different nations are competing in the games this year. Everyone is talking about them all over the world, but you might have a little trouble doing so in Chinese if you don’t know the lingo. Never fear, because we’re here to help!

Summer Olympic Sports in Chinese

Maracana Stadium in Rio. Photo by Around the rings1992 from

Maracana Stadium in Rio. Photo by Around the rings1992 from

To get you talking about the Olympics in Chinese, here are all of the events in alphabetical order in English, along with the Chinese translation and pinyin:

  • archery (射箭 – shè jiàn)

  • badminton (羽毛球 – yǔ máo qiú)

  • basketball (篮球 – lán qiú)

  • boxing (拳击 – quán jí)

  • canoe (轻艇 – qīng tǐng)

    • slalom (激流 – jī liú)

    • sprint (静水 – jìng shuǐ)

  • cycling (自由车 – zì yóu chē)

    • road (road (公路赛 – gōng lù sài))

    • track (场地赛 – chǎng dì sài)

    • BMX (小轮车 – xiǎo lún chē)

    • mountain (山地赛 – shān dì sài)

  • diving (跳水 – tiào shuǐ)

  • equestrian (马术 – mǎ shù)

  • fencing (击剑 – jí jiàn)

  • field hockey (曲棍球 – qū gùn qiú)

  • golf (高尔夫球 – gāo ěr fū qiú)

  • gymnastics (体操 – tǐ cāo)

  • handball (手球 – shǒu qiú)

  • judo (柔道 – róu dào)

  • modern pentathlon (现代五项 – xiàn dài wǔ xiàng)

  • rowing (划船 – huá chuán)

  • rugby (橄榄球 – gǎn lǎn qiú)

  • sailing (帆船 – fān chuán)

  • shooting (射击 – shè jí)

  • soccer (足球 – zú qiú)

  • swimming (游泳 – yóu yǒng)

  • synchronized swimming (水上芭蕾 – shuǐ shàng bā lěi)

  • table tennis (乒乓球 – pīng pāng qiú)

  • taekwondo (跆拳道 – tái quán dào)

  • tennis (网球 – wǎng qiú)

  • triathlon (铁人三项 – tiě rén sān xiàng)

  • track and field (田径 – tián jìng)

  • volleyball (排球 – pái qiú)

    • beach volleyball (沙滩排球 – shā tān pái qiú)

    • indoor volleyball (室内排球 – shì nèi pái qiú)

  • water polo (水球 – shuǐ qiú)

  • weight lifting (举重 – jǔ zhòng)

  • wrestling (角力 – jué lì)


2012 gold medals. Image by James Cridland from

2012 gold medals. Image by James Cridland from

Of course, all athletes dream of taking home a medal to their home country. Here are the Chinese names for the three medals that are up for grabs in each event:

  • gold medal (金牌 – jīn pái)

  • silver medal (银牌 – yín pái)

  • bronze medal (铜牌 – tóng pái)

Chinese Team

The 2016 installment of the games marks the 10th time China has sent a team to compete since their debut back in 1952. As the most populous country in the world, it should come as no surprise that China has sent quite a few athletes – 412 to be exact – to compete in 29 different sports. Track and field is the event with the most Chinese athletes, at 56. While China is expected to pull in quite a few gold medals, perhaps the biggest star of the team thus far has been Fu Yuanhui (傅园慧). After winning a bronze medal in swimming, her cheerful interview made her an overnight sensation, particularly on social media. Watch the interview with English subtitles and see for yourself:

We hope you all enjoy watching the Olympics, and best of luck to all the Chinese athletes!

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


  1. Andreas:

    thanks so much for the great list. There is one mistake on it: for 拳击 the ji is a first tone.
    It is wrong on google translate (no idea why – but I noticed when we wrote a blog post about Olympic Chinese vocab too so thats maybe where it came from?
    In any case, very useful though, I really hope more people can cheer Chinese athletes in Mandarin, so that they at least know when someone is supporting them 😉

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