The Future of a Multi-Sport
Mega-Event: Is there a Place
for the Olympic Games in
a ‘Post-Olympic’ World?
This chapter reflects on the future viability of a multi-sport event such as the Olympic Games, identifying potential threats to their exalted status at the pinnacle of world sport. Since any threat also represents an opportunity, the chapter also considers the capacity of Olympic organizers to respond to such challenges. The future of multi-sport mega-events is explored in the context of Asia for a number of reasons. Asia is one of the dynamic frontiers of world sport and will play an important role in the future global sports system because the countries of East Asia – China, Japan and South Korea – are becoming increasingly important in global economic and political terms. Asia is one area of the world where the Olympic movement is holding its own with its chief rival, the football World Cup. In many other continents – such as Africa and South America – devotion to the World Cup is much greater than the Olympic Games. The capacity of the Olympic movement to maintain its position in Asia will be critical to its future.
This chapter will revisit the Allen Guttmann thesis, elaborated in his Games and Empires, that the Olympic Games have long been deeply Eurocentric. Guttmann in this seminal work has stated that
the modern Olympic Games began as a European phenomenon and it has always been necessary for non-Western peoples to participate in the games on Western terms …
The most important consequence of European and American control of the Olympic movement has been that all the sports included in the Olympic programme have their origins in the West or are represented in the distinctly modern forms developed as part of Western culture. (Guttmann, 1994, pp. 120, 137)