BEIJING — Wayne Gretzky has been named a global ambassador for Beijing’s Kunlun Red Star as the Chinese capital seeks to boost the profile of hockey domestically ahead of hosting the Winter Olympics in 2022.
Gretzky will focus on youth development in China, including a planned KRS-Gretzky Hockey School that will provide advanced training for players ages 8-17 in Beijing and the southern tech hub of Shenzhen, eventually expanding to at least 20 locations nationwide.
Red Star is China’s only professional team and plays in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League.
China is seeking to boost hockey’s profile in a country where winter sports participation remains in its infancy.
The official China Daily newspaper quoted Red Star executive director Ao Meng as saying Gretzky’s involvement would be a “tremendous boost for hockey in China.”