Cultural and Political Issues-2008 Beijing Olympics
The Olympic games is the most important sporting event in the world, with over 200 countries participating, where thousands of sportsmen and sportswomen represent their nations in many sports (Rowe, 2012). The Olympics is considered to be the most significant sporting event in the world and it takes place every 4 years with winter and summer Olympics taking place alternatively every two years (Caffrey, 2008). Political affairs are affairs that relate to the government of a country or that relate to public affairs of a country, and cultural affairs are affairs which relate to the customs and social conduct of a society. The Olympics and politics go hand in hand, and this arrangement has been so for at least the past few decades. Culture also plays a key role in the organization of Olympics and modern Olympics have been considered to be built on a political platform (Schaap, 2008). Olympics was considered, and on some level, is still considered to be a platform to display national superiority/ strength (Askew, 2009). THIS IS A SAMPLE ORDER YOUR PAPER NOW
When comparing the articles on Olympics and politics, a key similarity between the articles reviewed is that all articles speak of Beijing bidding for and taking on the Olympics as an opportunity to broadcast the onset of an emerging global power that also boasts of an extensive and magnificent past. The concept that China cannot be considered a great supremacy unless they display ‘great physical culture and sport’ (Xu, 2006) should be taken into consideration when reviewing these articles. An unexpected outcome of the Olympics is the commercialization of the economy as well as the glorious culture boasted by China, and this is considered to be a leading cultural issue (Askew, 2009). Although many articles portray Olympics as an event that is supposed to create political understanding and harmony, the article by Askew discusses the more realistic aspect of the Olympics which has created a rivalry, and separated nations instead of bonding them. Another similarity found in the articles is that they all mention the theme taken on by different countries, according to their cultural values. The opening ceremony in Sydney was ocean themed, and the one in Athens in 2004 was based on Greek mythology and similarly China needed to make use of its’ cultural heritage and modern nature to be creative for the theme of the opening ceremony and in turn astound the world with its grandeur (Xu, 2006).
After hosting the Asian games of 1990 effectively, China started bidding for the Olympics (Grix, 2013). However, China lost the first bid of the 2000’s Olympic games to Sydney by a mere 2 votes (Xu, 2007). The Beijing Olympics was the third Olympics to be held in an Asian country, following two other countries, namely South Korea, and Japan (Schaap, 2008). A key political issue faced by China was their female athletes not receiving the same recognition as their male counterparts, but it is evident that those times are now behind us (Preuss and Alfs, 2011). Chinese women have progressed gradually in terms of sporting accomplishments, and in fact, have outdone their male counterparts in competitions like the Olympics in present times (Jarvie, Hwang and Brennan, 2009). Hosting the Olympics has an effect on global politics, and when bidding for the Olympics in the years of 2000 and 2008, China emphasized the fact that for the Olympics to be truly global it has to be held in non-Western countries as well. Chinese often believed that a healthy body resulted in a healthy nation and were desperate to take part in international competitions to prove their vitality and to attain the acknowledgment they desperately pursued (Askew, 2009). Sporting accomplishments were often used as a symbol of national strength and status. Hosting the Olympics was considered to be a cultural transformation to the host-nation (Xu, 2006). THIS IS A SAMPLE ORDER YOUR PAPER NOW
Beijing hoped to highlight their achievements in terms of economic growth, overcoming poverty, as well as political stability by hosting the 2008 Olympics. A key difference found in the articles reviewed is that the article by Askew emphasizes on the fact that activists used this as an opportunity to address other political issues such as the need to liberate Tibet, ethnic minorities, and issues related to peasants (Askew, 2009). Another issue that needs to be critically analyzed is the destruction of the homes and communities of poorer residents of Beijing, who lost their living spaces as a result of building infrastructure and sporting arenas for the Olympics (Askew, 2009). The Beijing Olympics was also called the ‘genocide Olympics’ by activists’ due to China being involved with the Sudanese government and not taking any action against the human right violations and the Washington post even published an article asking the citizens of the world to boycott the ‘genocide Olympics’ (Askew, 2009). Destruction of homes of the poor is a key political factor often looked-over in literature related to the Beijing Olympics. The article by Brady (2009) discusses how the preparation of the Olympics displayed in the media was just a tool to distract the public from more pressing issues that affected the country. Some of these issues are political corruption, inflation, unemployment and other environment related issues.
China’s March towards Westernization was supported and encouraged by the organization of the Olympics. This is something that is discussed and all the articles and commonly agreed upon by all scholars. Hosting the Olympics means great political strength for the nation as a whole (Xu, 2006). China, however, strived for the way of life of the Americans. Beijing considered the hosting of the Olympics as a coming out party to the entire world in terms of showing off their power and strength as a nation. China was now considered a global power and made it a point of claim it. Hosting of the Olympics was also considered an opportunity to boost the reputation of China globally, as well as domestically (Askew, 2009). It was decided that since Beijing was turned down once before during the 2000’s bid which China lost to Sydney, it was not possible for the West to turn down China and not give them the opportunity to host the Olympics again (Askew, 2009). Hosting the Olympics gave China the chance to re-brand their country’s image, whilst improving the relationship between the people of China and the people of the world. In the crucial period right before the Olympics, Chinese media was advised to promote the Olympics. The media was not to publish negative pieces on the safety, food, major disasters, environmental matters, city construction issues, etc. These issues were to be documented and reported only to the relevant departments. One of the main political issues faced by China in hosting the Olympics in 2008, was producing the image that China was powerful yet a peaceful nation (Askew, 2009). The main reason behind this could be the freedom of speech issues, and issues related to Tibet that were going on at the time of hosting the Games. In the time frame that lead up to the Beijing Olympics, there was an extensive raise in issues related to human rights violations by China in Media around the world, especially Western nations (Caffrey, 2011).
Finally, it can be agreed upon that all the articles reviewed settles on the fact that China bidding for the Olympic games of 2008 was done with a particular notion in mind. This was to emerge as a supremacy by hosting the most prestigious sporting event in the world. The articles also address the themes taken on by different countries when hosting the Olympics opening ceremony and that China would boast of its extensive past as a part of their theme. A key difference between the different articles is that all the articles do not address the issue of Chinese residents losing homes due to the stadiums and arenas being built in their living spaces. This is a key political/ cultural issue and should definitely be considered more in literature related to the Beijing Olympics. Another key issue that was addressed was China not liberating Tibet. Apart from these key issues, many other issues were addressed in the above literature review. THIS IS A SAMPLE ORDER YOUR PAPER NOW
Askew, D. (2009). Sport and politics: the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. European studies, 27, pp.103-120.
Brady, A. (2009). The Beijing Olympics as a Campaign of Mass Distraction. The China Quarterly, 197, p.1.
Caffrey, K. (2008). Olympian Politics in Beijing: Games but not Just Games. The International Journal of the History of Sport, [online] 25(7), pp.807-825. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09523360802009222 [Accessed 3 Mar. 2018].
Caffrey, K. (2011). The Beijing Olympics. Abingdon: Routledge, pp.36 – 80.
Grix, J. (2013). Sport Politics and the Olympics. Political Studies Review, 11(1), pp.15-25.
Jarvie, G., Hwang, D. and Brennan, M. (2009). Sport, Revolution and the Beijing Olympics. Oxford: Berg Publishers, pp.1 – 30.
Preuss, H. and Alfs, C. (2011). Signaling through the 2008 Beijing Olympics—Using Mega Sport Events to Change the Perception and Image of the Host. European Sport Management Quarterly, [online] 11(1), pp.55-71. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/16184742.2010.537362 [Accessed 3 Mar. 2018].
Rowe, D. (2012). The bid, the lead-up, the event and the legacy: global cultural politics and hosting the Olympics. The British Journal of Sociology, [online] 63(2), pp.285-305. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1468-4446.2012.01410.x [Accessed 3 Mar. 2018].
Schaap, J. (2008). From Berlin to Beijing: Politics and the Olympics. Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, 2(3), pp.79-85.
Xu, X. (2006). Modernizing China in the Olympic Spotlight: China’s National Identity and the 2008 Beijing Olympiad. The Sociological Review, 54(2), pp.90-107.