Dalian Wanda Group have purchased the World Triathlon Corporation ©ITU

International Triathlon Union (ITU) President Marisol Casado has praised the Dalian Wanda Group after the Chinese conglomerate made its first investment into the sport by acquiring the World Triathlon Corporation.

Wanda Group - also the world's largest cinema chain operator, owning Wanda Cinemas, AMC Entertainment and the Hoyts Group - has become a major player in the sports world this year, buying a 20 per cent stake in Spanish football club Atlético Madrid.

In February they won an auction to purchase Infront Sports & Media, the Swiss-based sports marketing company which distributes broadcasting rights for some of the world’s biggest sporting events, including the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups.

World Triathlon Corporation, the US company which promote and licenses various competitions, were revealed as the latest acquisition earlier this month, being purchased for $650 million (£580 million/€423 million).

The company's Ironman Asia Pacific division recently served as the race organiser for ITU’s Gold Coast World Triathlon Series event, and is set to continue to do so for the next three years.

Britain's Jonathan Brownlee pictured en route to victory at the Gold Coast leg of the World Triathlon Series this year ©ITU
Britain's Jonathan Brownlee pictured en route to victory at the Gold Coast leg of the World Triathlon Series this year ©ITU

"As the international governing body for triathlon, we look forward to working with Dalian Wanda in an effort to mutually grow the sport,” said Casado, the Spaniard who is also a member of the IOC.

“We have recently come a long way in working with the World Triathlon Corporation on the harmonisation of triathlon rules.

"It is critical that all triathlon event companies implement these standards to ensure that, as triathlon grows globally, it is done so with an equal understanding of the sport worldwide.”

“ITU has been heavily focused on growing triathlon in China and across all of Asia.

"We’ve enjoyed great success with ITU World Cup races, technical official courses and athlete development camps held in China in the last several years thanks to the hard work of the China Triathlon Sports Association.

“Working with Dalian Wanda in conjunction with ITU National Federations and Continental Confederations further opens the doors to continue the development of triathlon both globally and locally.

"We see their entrance into the triathlon world as a positive one.”

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 Beijing 2022 Olympic bid potentially boosted as Dalian Wanda acquires Infront Sports & Media