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International Volleyball Tournament Lifts Spirits, Boosts Business in Oakland Chinatown

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- A large volleyball tournament is serving up economic benefits in Oakland Chinatown this weekend.

About 50 teams from as far away as New York, Boston, Chicago and Vancouver competed in the North American Chinese Invitational Volleyball Tournament.

Roughly 1,000 athletes from around the U.S. and Canada are competing on multiple courts set up on the streets of Chinatown and Lincoln Square Center.

This is the first year Oakland is hosting the 76-year-old tournament. After recent attacks of Asian Americans went viral, the tournament committee wanted to show their support for Oakland's Chinatown.

Michael Silvas plays for the San Francisco OG's. He said the level of competition is very high at the tournament.

"Some of the kids here play collegiate level and even higher. We had professional players," Silvas said.

On the men's side, nine players are on the court for each team. The women stay with the traditional six players per team.

Aside from the competition and fun, Oakland leaders are happy that the hundreds of athletes and their families are spending time and money in Chinatown.

"I've personally never been to Oakland Chinatown before," said Allison Der, who plays for the Los Angeles Underdogs. "I usually go to the one in L.A. It's actually very different but I love the support that we're giving to our own community. Like, even just our lunch order, my teammate was telling me the restaurant had to shut down because they had to make all the food for our orders. It's great to be giving money back to our Asian community."

The Chinatown Chamber of Commerce president Carl Chan said this is the type of jumpstart they need. The pandemic and recent attacks scared a lot of shoppers away.

"They are staying here on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. They are patronizing, getting breakfast, lunch, dinner and buying things throughout Chinatown," Chan said.

Restaurants and boba stores had long lines on Sunday. Nearby hotels, like the downtown Marriott on Broadway, are filled up.

"It is good for Chinatown. More people coming back to Chinatown. Business is a little bit more," said Carl Wong, owner of Yung Kee Restaurant.

"People see more people in Chinatown and they feel more comfortable (and safe) to come out," said Kin Ching Lam, a manager at New Gold Medal restaurant.

The competition gets even more intense on Monday. Playoff games start at 9 a.m. It's free for the public in attend.

In past years, the tournament rotated host cities from San Francisco to New York and to other cities like Toronto, Canada. The tournament committee said it'll now include Oakland as a future host city.

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