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Urban Forum

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 139–152 | Cite as

Whose Accolades? An Alternative Perspective on Motivations for Hosting the Olympics

  • Richard TomlinsonEmail author
Article

Abstract

This article argues that much of the literature on Olympic cities misperceives the role played by a city’s business and political elites due to the failure to take into account the historical and socioeconomic circumstances of the country concerned. The article demonstrates that the Chinese Communist Party used the Olympics as a vehicle to consolidate its legitimacy and Beijing as a showpiece to project the country’s identity and modernity internationally. The emphasis here is the interests of the Party and not urban entrepreneurialism. The essential contribution of this article is to propose a matrix as a tool for exploring the motivations of cities and countries for hosting the Olympics. The matrix comprises Olympic cities in democratic and authoritarian, and in developed and developing, countries.

Keywords

Olympics Urban entrepreneurialism Beijing Democratic and authoritarian countries 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This paper emerged from a course I taught at Columbia University on ‘Mega-events and urban development’ and benefitted from class discussion. I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Orli Bass, Thomas Bassett, Robert Beauregard, Susan Fainstein, Briavel Holcomb and Peter Marcuse in clarifying and sharpening the positions advanced in this paper; which is not to say that they agree with all the points.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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