Post-Olympism? Questioning Sport in the Twenty-First Century

By John Bale; Mette Krogh Christensen | Go to book overview

3
China and Olympism
Susan Brownell

What Comes after the -Isms? Postmodernism, Postcolonialism, and Post-Olympism (but not PostNationalism)

In July 2002, I met with the IOC member in China and elder statesman of Chinese sports, He Zhenliang, in Beijing. In 1979, Mr He became the first IOC member in the People's Republic of China (PRC) after nearly thirty years of negotiating with the IOC over its recognition of Taiwan as a representative of China. After discussing a number of other issues, we had a few spare minutes, so I told him that I was writing a paper on ‘post-Olympism’ (hou Aolinpike zhuyi, a word I invented to translate the theme of this book) where I planned to discuss the future influence of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on Olympism. I asked him how he would address this question. He replied that although he had not used the label of post-Olympism, he had devoted much thought to an issue that might fit the description. He believed that the future of the Olympic movement lies in cultural diversification. If the Olympic movement is to remain a vital force, then it must become truly multicultural so that it embraces the national cultures of the world outside of the West. He further noted that this would mean that more non-Western and developing nations should host the Olympic Games in the future, and that this would be much more likely if the new president, Jacques Rogge, reversed the past policy of growth so that the Games were of a size that would be manageable for those nations that are not among the world's wealthiest. Therefore, a very important moment in the course of the Olympic movement would occur at the next IOC session, where it would be seen whether a policy change would carry through. In the half-year since that conversation, results have been mixed: it was proposed that some sports be deleted from the programme, but it was proposed that others be added, and it is not yet clear whether any of the proposed deletions will take place. Still, it does appear that there will be resistance to expansion under Rogge, and perhaps that is a start.

I want to take Mr He's ideas as a starting point for my contribution to this volume, not only because I learned something from him, but also because I

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