Development and Urbanization
Following the modernization of industrial centers on a global scale, the last century and a half has also seen an exponential growth of international sports mega events. At the pinnacle of these major sporting events in terms of size, media attention, and socio-political influence stand the Olympic Games. An increasing body of literature is dedicated to the effects of the Olympics on public spaces, specifically how the preparations for hosting this sporting event tie in with human rights, the preservation of natural resources, and the extended legacy of the Games in terms of usable sports infrastructure.
In Asia, past Olympic Games have had a tremendous impact on the host cities in socio-political as well as spatial terms, with Japan’s 1964 Games perhaps being the best example (Tagsold, 2002). However, in the past decades the Olympic Games have been increasingly criticized for the effects it has had on host cities (Lenskyj and Wagg, 2012). Forced evictions to facilitate building projects in lieu of hosting the Games in Beijing in 2008, and more recently, similar practices in preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Games are only a few examples. While there are many ways the mega event can affect the host city, we can see a historical shift in trends of Olympic urban renewal. For one, since the 1990s, we see a clear turn towards leaving a ‘physical legacy’ on the city (Gold and Gold, 2011). Increasing significance is given to creating impressive architecture and implementing rigorous renewals of infrastructure - as was the case for i.e. Beijing 2008. On the other hand, parallel to the developments of the Olympic Games, there is also a visible shift in importance occurring with regard to the Paralympic Games from the perspective of organizing nations. Tokyo, for example, is being promoted to go fully ‘barrier free’ in time for the Games.
Highlighting how the recent developments in Olympic Host cities tie up with the instances of Olympic and Paralympic Games held outside the ‘West’, this roundtable provides a platform for East Asia specialists to discuss how the Olympic Games have shaped host cities in Asia. In our discussion, we will especially assert the topic of the impact of the Olympic and Paralympic ‘legacy’ and assess how East Asian nations have interpret this concept in the past decades of Olympism in Asia.