Development and Urbanization
Co-Authors: Katharina Borgmann - Dr.-Ing, University Duisburg-Essen
When a city is chosen to be the host of the Olympic Summer Games, it commits to rigorous changes in its cityscape. Transforming into an ‘Olympic City’ can change a city’s international image and has lasting effect on its citizens (Gold and Gold 2011; Miah and García 2012). Tokyo 2020 will be only the fourth time the concept of Olympic Summer Games travel to Asia. It is speculated that the costs of the urban (re)construction for these Games will match those of Beijing 2008, which would make these Asian cities the two most expensive Olympic cities ever held. Besides the economic investment, there are considerable similarities in the hosting of the event in the two cities: in particular, both are trying to construct an image of a ‘global’ and ‘high-tech’ city while simultaneously trying to showcase the cities’ heritage, and emphasize the image of being ‘traditional’, in their unique interpretation. This paper discusses the conceptualization, design, and planning of the main Olympic venues of Beijing and Tokyo and traces how in the design and planning for the Games, tradition and innovation not only coexist, but how the Games function as a catalyst to promote these two seemingly contrasting aspects and serve to re-brand the host city and shape the cities’ identities. By looking at the urban transformations that accompany the Games from a planning and also from a cultural studies perspective, this paper provides an interesting comparison between two Asian cities and how they re-imagine themselves through this international mega-event.