Despite widespread criticism of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that has emerged in Chinese state-owned media, the 2022 Asian Games has announced the sale of its first NFT collection.

Fast facts

  • Organizers of the games, set to take place in September 2022 in Hangzhou, the capital city of the eastern province of Zhejiang, announced in a social media post what they say is the first NFT collection in the history of the multi-sport event.
  • The limited edition of the 20,000 NFTs, priced at 39 yuan (US$6) each, featuring the event’s torch, will be available beginning on Thursday via an in-app feature in Alipay, powered by Ant Chain, the blockchain arm of Alibaba affiliate Ant Group.
  • Hangzhou, which has a population of more than 10 million people, is home to Chinese tech giant Alibaba.
  • The NFT sales come despite criticisms of the new form of digital collectibles that have emerged in China-run media outlets. Securities Times, a sister paper of state mouthpiece the People’s Daily, published an opinion piece last week to criticize NFTs as hype and suggested the digital assets should serve the real economy by tokenizing actual assets.
  • Beijing Business Today reported on Monday that NFT buyers’ cash could be retained by NFT marketplace UMX.ART because buyers were asked to make payment before placing bids in auctions, despite an understanding the platform would return the money if their bids failed. However, Li Zhang, co-founder and chief technical officer at UMX.ART, told Forkast.News that buyers’ transactions were handled in a dedicated account, and that the company had strict internal rules in place to prevent money transfers from that account to other accounts it managed.
  • Alibaba has been actively issuing NFTs. Over the past weekend, Alibaba’s online retailer Tmall launched an NFT moon cake — a snack to celebrate the Chinese traditional Mid-Autumn Festival — which sold out in a day.