Annals of the Association of Economic Geographers
Online ISSN : 2424-1636
Print ISSN : 0004-5683
ISSN-L : 0004-5683
Special Issue Articles
The Olympics in Global Cities:
Deindustrialization, Rescaling, and Gentrification
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2020 Volume 66 Issue 1 Pages 29-48


    Unlike the second half of the 20th century, in the 21st century, mega-events such as Expos and the Olympics are planned in the major cities of developed countries, most of which have already hosted them. This demonstrates that the role of mega-events is changing to adapt to political, economic or social needs. The purpose of this paper is to understand what hosting the Olympics in global cities such as London, Paris, or Tokyo means by using a comparative analysis of the social role and urban impact of mega-events since the 19th century.
    Expos began in the mid-19th century and were held in the most important cities of newly constructed nation-states, to increase the awareness of nationality and patriotism and educate workers to make better goods than other countries. They also intended to demonstrate to more remote parts of the country and other nations, the image of the major cities amid modernization. Around the turn of the century, Expos included exhibitions of indigenous people to justify colonization and intensified imperialism. In this way, they reflected the national and urban situations of the time.
    Initially, the Olympics had less of an impact than Expos, but when London began to construct a stadium for the 1908 Games, they began to have an increasing influence on urban planning. Paris also constructed a stadium and also the first Olympic village for the 1924 Games. These two stadiums were both approximately 10 km from the center point of each city (Saint-Paul's for London and Notre-Dame for Paris). For the canceled 1940 Olympics, set to be held in Tokyo, a stadium was planned 12 km away from the center point (the Imperial Palace). The Olympic Games before WWII are thus related to the first development of suburban areas. After the war, the Games were held in London in 1948 and Tokyo in 1964, and this time reflected the megalopolization of cities with the location of the stadium or the construction of a city highway. Thus, the Olympics also influenced urban development during periods of economic growth.
    In the 21st century, with deindustrialization, the sites of mega-events have been selected to complement urban regeneration projects that began in the 1990s in all three cities. If we compare these urban policies, we realize that they have a common characteristic: the area's radius is approximately 10 km from the center point: Inner London for London, the Yamanote line (a circular railway line) for Tokyo, and the Métropole du Grand Paris (MGP) for Paris. This can be understood as the rescaling of cities from the megalopolis: the three cities decided where to concentrate the investment to adjust economic development, and the Olympics

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