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Sports

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Sports are part of school programs in Thailand. Most children participate in activities such as table tennis, gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, and track and field. Soccer is probably the most popular sport in the nation. Young people play it in school, and people of all ages follow the game as a spectator sport. Televised matches attract millions of enthusiastic viewers. Thailand is a participant in the international Asian Games and Thai athletes have won many medals.

Bangkok has several sports clubs. Facilities include racetracks, swimming pools, gyms, tennis courts, playing fields and golf courses. Thais are proud of the internationally famous golf champion Tiger Woods, whose mother is Thai. Sailing and yachting are also popular.

Some sports enjoyed in Thailand are not familiar in much of the world. For example, boxing has different rules in Thailand than in most other countries. To westerners, it seems very violent. Boxers are allowed to use their feet, elbows, knees and shoulders to kick or punch their opponents. However, biting, spitting and wrestling are forbidden and boxers must wear gloves.

Bullfighting in Thailand is different, too. The bulls fight each other and the spectators bet on their favorites. An elephant festival in Thailand features a rodeo. One event is a tug-of-war between an elephant and hundred or so men. Another act is an elephant race.

Kite-flying is popular during the windy season. During March and April, whenever the winds are right, the air is full of huge kites over the Pramane Grounds near the Royal Palace in Bangkok. As a competitive sport, two teams try to force one another' kites to fall to the ground.