Annals of the Association of Economic Geographers
Online ISSN : 2424-1636
Print ISSN : 0004-5683
ISSN-L : 0004-5683
Special Issue Articles
From Mega-events Studies to Olympic Studies:
An Exploration of Geographic Themes
Atsushi NARUSE
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2020 Volume 66 Issue 1 Pages 3-28


    This article is an English-language review of Olympic studies. Much of the literature on the Olympics discussed in this paper can be positioned as a sub-discipline within mega-events studies. Urban sociology and geography have contributed immensely to this field, which originated within interdisciplinary tourism studies. Because of the complex characteristics of an enormous event that is the Olympic Games, this paper deals with a variety of research fields. The purpose of this paper is to explore of the wider geographical theme of urban studies from the perspective of Olympic studies.
    In the third section, the author provides an overview of Olympic studies literature, categorizing these into those that focus on the following topics: economical, touristic, physical, socio-cultural, psychological and political, which can be found in early mega-events studies. In the fourth section, the author places literature treating geographical themes under the following categories: Olympic cities, global competition between cities, urban (re)development, environment and sustainability, legacy, and citizen engagement.
    In the 1990s, research by urban sociologists extracted the urban theme from mega-events studies. From around 2000, Olympic studies by geographers has led geographical studies that were broadly concerned with the Olympics by overviewing the plans of previous host cities and since that time, the Olympic studies on geographical themes have flourished. Although the modern Olympic Games were of an international nature from the beginning, bidding to host the Olympics has become a global competition between cities around the world, and Olympic-related development has practiced a public-private partnership (PPP) under a neo-liberal urban policy.
    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has advocated for environmental issues and sustainability in its “Agenda 21” in a manner consonant with the trend of international public discourse. The IOC's claims concern issues of human rights and residence rights. By stressing the concept of “legacy,” the IOC requests that a host city's plans make use of existing venues in order to avoid problems that have arisen in past Games. However, the IOC's concept of sustainability was becoming a mere name, in preparations for the 2020 Games; human rights and environmental policy violations have occurred. In addition, there does not seem to be any room for accomplishing citizen engagement or participation in these Games. What is the future of the Olympics when it faces so many problems?

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