Since the country’s unification in 1976 and especially the introduction of the renovation process in 1986, positive social and economic changes have pushed the sports branch to thrive.
The sports movement at grassroots levels has increasingly attracted mass participation; millions of people of all ages have been regularly practicing sports and physical exercises. Streets of Vietnam in the early morning often impress foreigners by groups of people exercising thai cuc quyen (taijiquan, a kind of traditional Chinese shadow boxing), deep-breathing training, playing badminton and mini-soccer. Widespread aerobic and nourishing exercise clubs have attracted middle-aged and old people, while courses of Judo, Karate, and Taekwondo have been a passion of the youth. Sporting events take place all year round across the country with major competitions of each category and sports games at local and national levels.
Soccer is the most popular game in Vietnam. Those who concern about soccer include not only soccer players at all levels but also the mass of soccer fans in which many of them have not even kicked a ball.
However, the high ranking awards of the Vietnam sports were not given to soccer, but chess playing, kung Fu and shooting. Many Vietnamese chess players have been conferred with Prominent Player and Great Prominent Player Honours by the International Chess Federation, namely, Hoang Thanh Trang, Dao Thien Hai, Nguyen Thi Tuong Van… Regarding kung Fu, Wushu player Nguyen Thuy Hien, gold medallist at the 1996 Asian Wushu Championships, is the most prominent sporting personality of Vietnam. Male and female players of Taekwondo, Judo and Karate are usually a spearhead of Vietnamese sports in regional competitions. Another Vietnamese outstanding sporting personality is body-builder Ly Duc, the gold medallist at the 90 kg category at the Asian Body-building Championships held in Rangoon, Myanmar.
Recently, national records in athletics and swimming have been continuously broken. This is truly a good news showing that Vietnam is trying to fill the gap with international and regional standard in these sports.