Victory Medals of Beijing 2008 Olympics. (2007, April 1). Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://www.china.org.cn/english/China/205706.htm
The Importance of Gold
China has been notorious in the Olympic Games for many years and their hopes for gold are set high. Many of the athletes are trained to win gold and nothing less. Winning a gold medal takes a lot of effort and training over the years. However, sometimes one minor mistake or an off day will result in the athletes not being able to get the gold. During the Olympic Games, the Chinese social media would have the medal count table in the front page. This gives the nation a sense of pride and empowerment when athletes are winning gold medals for their country. It makes the people think that China is a strong nation. Li, Meng & Wang (2009) mentions that Chinese people are enthusiastic about gold medals and that silver or bronze winners receive close to no recognition. When I read the news during the Olympic games, the Chinese media always talk about the disappointment of athletes not being able to achieve the gold. Athletes would apologize for not earning gold and disappointing the country like Wu Jingbiao. This controversial issue occurs for every Olympic that the Chinese participates in. General (2016) states that China rewards their gold medalist $31400 per gold medal they get and that is part of the reason why all the athletes would strive for gold. By becoming an Olympic gold medalist or champion, it falls in to the ideology of class struggle and inequality. It follows the winner-takes-all model where athletes are able to turn their lives around and allow to become an elite and fall in to the upper class after becoming a gold medalist. However, this would be a life time process and a lot of training in order to succeed becoming a gold medalist.
Neoliberalism in China
China falls in to the ideology of neoliberalism under these mega-events. Mega-events like the Olympic Games are able to demonstrate and support the ideology of neoliberalism in a nation. Neoliberalism is defined as “a modern politico-economic theory favouring free trade, privatization, minimal government intervention in business, reduced public expenditure on social services, etc” (The Free Dictionary, 2016). China falls in to two main ideas of neoliberalism from the Olympic Games. The concept of the public good or community is eliminated when it is being replaced by individual responsibility (Martinez & Garcia, 1996). As a result, it gets the poor to find their own solutions to their lives.
Vivirito, H. (n.d.). Why The Rich Get Richer and The Poor Get Poorer | The Official Site Of Hunter Vivirito. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://digitalbloggers.org/hvivirito/why-the-rich-get-richer-and-the-poor-get-poorer/
I want to go in depth and research about neoliberal perspective in China and how it takes a toll on the people. From the people to the economy, and how the living condition in certain areas are not livable. There are large amount of people living below international poverty line with the foreign exchange and rapid economic growth (Lixiong & Chui, 2010). From a neoliberal standpoint, rich get richer and poor get poorer. As a result, mega events are able to benefit the people from class struggles when they become an Olympic champion. Moreover, this will provide an image for the Olympian and a positive image for the country. Compton (2016) states that mega-events would allow a country to accelerate consumerism and capitalist production in a country. By hosting a mega-event, it is able to demonstrate to the world how the country is seen and boost the economy of the nation. Dai (2013) states that under China’s powerful economy, Mega-events will enable China to boost their economic growth even more and provide more opportunities to the people. However, the negative perspective is hidden by the coverage. In my article, I want to go beyond the surface of how the Chinese society functions in order to gain a new insight to the world through sports and communication. As seen on the newspaper, the Chinese media tries to downplay their image of having silver medals in the country. The truth is that Chinese people will only pursue for gold and it’s the mentality of the people. Back in 2012 this Olympian was blamed for having silver. It is an ideology that is implemented in to these athletes at a young age when they first started training. For example, Wu Jingbiao was blamed and apologized to the nation when it was not his fault for receiving silver (Alia, 2012). Furthermore, athletes receive less recognition when they are placed silver or bronze by the people and the government itself (Alia, 2012).
Alia. (2012, July 31). In China, Only gold medal counts. Retrieved from http://offbeatchina.com/in-china-only-gold-medal-counts
From China hosting the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Chinese hoped to achieve recognition on urbanization, international order, and self-identity of Chinese people (Wasserstorm, 2009). It brings people together when you host a mega event like the Olympics and gets people come together in one place. It is a glorifying moment to host the Olympic Games, but there are also a lot of people who could be suffering due to the Olympic Games. Shin & Li (2013) states that there are many demolition of villages in the city because of the Olympic Games in Beijing. In an outsider point of view where the truth is hidden from the people. Hall (2006) mentions that mega-events can be a corporate interest of the government for urban development and imaging for a nation. There are many negative impacts like the training of the athletes or the demolitions of lower incomes housing in order to glorify a nation itself like China. Urban renewal was an issue in the Beijing Olympic Games and demonstrated inequality, but the Olympic Games drew people’s attention away from the issue (Shin & Li, 2013). It supports the ideology of gentrification, where they tore down old neighbours to urbanize an area and increasing the value in the future. I believe that it shares the same idea when villages in the city are torn down and that lower income families are forced to move to areas out of the city with very little compensation. This also leads back to the ideology of neoliberalism and how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer where these mega events are only meant for the wealthy individuals with premium ticket prices. Shin & Li (2013) states that these low-income families are forced out of their homes in to the sub urban area because of cheaper housing. This shows how mega-events like the Olympic Games can affect people in the area and how cases like this are not covered by the media. Moreover, it’s not covered by the area because association of mega events are considered politics and any opposition could be treated as a threat to the ruling regime (Shin & Li, 2013). The poor condition of athletes being trained also go unnoticed when they are being trained a young age. One of the solutions to get out of the class struggle would be becoming an athlete and achieving recognition by the people at a mega event.
China’s Obsession With Olympic Gold Drives Children To Tears. (n.d.). Retrieved December 01, 2016, from http://www.carbonated.tv/news/china-gymnastics-schools-rio-olympics-2016-photos
Training Conditions of Chinese Young Athletes
Chinese Youth Athletes are being chosen and trained at a young age for Chinese Olympics team. I want to explorer the condition of the youth athletes and toll it has on these individual’s body through these training conditions. According to Schiller (2012), “In china, the young children are caught up inside the country’s medal machine, it can be anything but fun and games.” At a young age, parents would send their children to these training camps and hoping that their children would become a gold medalist one day. Li, Meng & Wang (2009) states that for individual provinces in China, there will be more funding and it is considered a political goal for the provincial leaders. However, their training practices are inhumane on these Chinese Youth Athletes. In this picture, it can be seen that this young athlete is in tears after holding on to the bars for a long duration of time. Schiller (2012) states that the Human Right Watch are worried about these practices, but actions cannot be taken because it is an eastern approach of training. Actions should be taken regardless of their approaches because of these inhumane practices and trainings to young individuals which can cause harm to them physical and emotionally in the long run. Whitson (2015) mentioned that the administrative power of panopticon quickly distributed in to school by having their performance tracked over time and differentiate subjects. These young athletes are also placed under competitions in order to represent the best in the nation. Similarly, these training camps share a similar ideology, where youths are chosen from the population to be trained and carefully picked to become participants at the Olympic Games. By succeeding in the Olympic Games, it would allow these individual athletes to get out of their class struggle and inequality.
Daily Mail. (2016, August 16). Retrieved December 01, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06WWeP4APUg
Looking at how the truth is constantly covered and hidden from the public. There should be more exposure in the Chinese media about these inhumane practices. People need to voice their opinions about their problems and go against the political perspective of the nation. Chinese audience should look forward to the games and athletes rather than medal count (Yap, 2016). They need to look at the Olympic Games at a different perspective rather than just athletes constantly winning gold medals because they are not machines. The people just need to enjoy the game and cheer on for their nation and change their mentality of watching the game (Jia & Yining, 2012). Moreover, the people and athletes should show support for one another regardless of what they have achieved in the Olympic Games. Another solution could be the environmental perspective of sports can be useful to Mega-events hosts. Schmidt (2006) mentions that in 1994, Norway redesigned their skating ring because of bird habitat. In relation to this environmental issue that is related to sports, I think similar solutions need to be done to the people. Nations that host Mega-events need to consider about the people that is living in the area before urbanizing or building new facilities similar to what Norway have done with the bird habitat.
By hosting mega events, it enables the nation to have economic growth over a period of time. It falls under the ideology of neoliberalism and how it can affect many people in the nation. Example like gentrification and urbanization are used when mega events like the Olympic Games take place. From a political perspective, mega events are hiding the negative impacts it has on a nation, while glorifying the positive aspects of one nation. For example, it is able to show the glorifying moment of 15-year-old Ren Qian being the youngest gold medal winner for China in Rio (Masters, 2016). There is never any news written about the failure of certain athletes, while only showing the positive aspects of being athletes especially in China. Moreover, from the tight social media control or censorship in China, many of the truths are still hidden within the nation because people do not want to be an opposition of the ruling regime. Overall, this demonstrates how a neoliberal country like China are able to hide the truth from the rest of the world when a mega-event takes place.
Alia. (2012, July 31). In China, Only gold medal counts. Retrieved from http://offbeatchina.com/in-china-only-gold-medal-counts
Compton, J. (2016). Mega-events, media, and the integrated world of global spectacle. Mega-Events and Globalization. doi:10.4324/9781315752174
Dai, A. (2013, December 2). How Chinese Mega-events helped stimulate the Chinese Economy. Retrieved from https://ccpc.asian.lsa.umich.edu/how-chinese-performance-culture-helped-stimulate-the-chinese-economy/
General, R. (2016, August 10). Here’s How Much Money Olympic Gold Medalists Win in Each Country. Retrieved from http://nextshark.com/heres-much-money-olympic-gold-medalists-win-country/
Hall, C. M. (2006). Urban entrepreneurship, corporate interests and sports mega-events: The thin policies of competitiveness within the hard outcomes of neoliberalism. The Sociological Review, 54, 59-70. doi:10.1111/j.1467-954x.2006.00653.x
Jia, C., & Yining, P. (2012, July 31). Silver and bronze are golden too. Retrieved from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/2012olympics/2012-07/31/content_15633006.htm
Li, H., Meng, L., & Wang, Q. (2009, November 19). The government’s role in China’s Olympic glory. Applied Economics, 41(25), 3313-3318. doi:10.1080/00036840701736081
Lixiong, Y., & Chui, E. (2010). Poverty Line in China Rural Areas: A Critical Reappraisal. Journal of Poverty, 14(3), 329-346. doi:10.1080/10875549.2010.494956
Martinez, E., & Garcia, A. (1996, August 3). CorpWatch : What is Neoliberalism? Retrieved from http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?&id=376
Masters, J. (2016, August 18). Ren Qian: 15-year-old wins Olympic gold. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2016/08/18/sport/ren-qian-china-diving/
Schiller, B. (2012, August 2). China’s child-fuelled medal machine keeps cranking out Olympic gold | Toronto Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/sports/olympics/2012/08/02/chinas_childfuelled_medal_machine_keeps_cranking_out_olympic_gold.html
Schmidt, C. W. (2006). Putting the Earth in Play: Environmental Awareness and Sports. Environmental Health Perspectives, 114(5), 286-295. doi:10.1289/ehp.114-a286
Shin, H. B., & Li, B. (2013). Whose games? The costs of being “Olympic citizens” in Beijing. Environment and Urbanization, 25(2), 559-576. doi:10.1177/0956247813501139
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Yap, C. (2016, August 20). Rio 2016: China Rethinks Gold Medal Pursuit at Olympics. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/china-rethinks-gold-medal-pursuit-at-rio-olympics-1471609543