Sport, Revolution and the Beijing Olympics

By Grant Jarvie; Dong-Jhy Hwang et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Capitalist Sport, the Beijing Olympics
and Human Rights?

Introduction

Sport and the hosting of major sporting events may not be the key essential criterion of superpower status but with a population of 1.3 billion China could also emerge as a potential powerhouse in world sport. In 2004, representatives of motor sport's governing body, the FIA, were in Shanghai to inspect the track for China's first grand prix that was held in September 2004. At the time, Michael Jordan was pushing his new shoe brand which was selling for £100 per pair in Beijing, Don King was exploring the possibility of taking a world heavyweight title fight to China, and China is already part of the world golf and tennis circuit. The Asian Cup Football Championship was staged in China during July 2004. Both the Shanghai Open and the China Open Golf Tournaments have been established. The arrival of Formula One is perhaps the most surprising development given that the majority of the Chinese population live in rural areas far removed from the glamour of the track. In 2004, however, the demand for tickets at about £250 each was by far outstripping the supply. The traditional sports, table tennis, volleyball, badminton and various martial arts, are still popular despite the global pressures brought about by football and basketball.

The commercial and sporting potential of China will become fully apparent by the time of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. On 13 July 2001, the International Olympic Committee chose Beijing over four other candidate cities, Toronto, Paris, Istanbul and Osaka, as the venue for the 2008 Olympic Games. Beijing had previously lost out to Sydney in the bid to stage the 2000 Olympic Games. The paradox that is the relationship between China, sport and the Olympic Games is complex. At the heart of the debate about whether China should host the 2000 and 2008 Olympic Games was a simple struggle between essentially two points of view. Supporters of the Beijing 2008 Olympic bid argued that staging the Olympics would help to narrow the gap between China and the rest of the world. The media coverage of the event would illustrate that China had come of age as a member of the international community. A sport-obsessed younger generation in a country that contains about a quarter of the world's population would benefit

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