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Globalization of Olympics in Beijing 2008

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In 2008, Beijing hosted the Olympic Games.  This was the first time for China to host such an international event and the president of the IOC commented that it was not a mistake to host the event.  2008 Beijing Olympic was an important event that had a lot of impact in the country especially when considering the human rights and environmental pollution issues surrounding China prior to the  hosting of the games. When China was confirmed as the host for the event, many speculated that it would be a failure in terms of the financial requirements in preparation and considering other aspects like moral aspects of China communist party which is in power.  Despite the resistance from some quarters especially human right activist, China successfully prepared for the great event that would not only bring economic benefit to the country but it was also meant to market the country to the rest of the world.

However the Olympic Games had little economic impact on the country but it helped to market the country to the rest of the world. The event may not have realized the expected economic returns by it waned off some skepticism about China to the rest of the world. Before and after the event, the media played a key role in exposing the true Beijing both in its positive and negative aspects. However it has been argued that the media may have avoided the negative side of China and exposed only the positive side. There are claims that there was massive violation of human rights in the country especially when dealing with the demonstrating Tibetans who were obstructing the Olympic torch. Beijing Olympic was however one of the most successful Olympics in world and played the expected role of marketing China to the rest of the world.

Globalization of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

According to Appadurai (2001) globalization is one of the recent events that have brought the world close to a global village. Globalization is a phenomenon that has transformed our local setting to global one.  Globalization link different people from all over the world though economic, technological, social cultural and political forces. However, globalization in most cases is used to refer to economic integration of the world. This involves the integration of the national economies to international economic systems which as been successfully achieved through trade, foreign direct investment, flow of capital and others.  According to Appadurai (2000) the process of globalization cannot be complete   without considering the social cultural aspects like sports which plays different roles in economic and culture integration of the world. For a long time, the Olympic Games have been used as one of those important events that have advanced the social cultural life of people in the world.

China has been one of the countries to have opened its borders to globalization. For a long time, China has been closed up by socialist ideals. Since the turn of the century, China remained closed and alienated to the rest of the world and its economy also remained stagnated.  However since 1970s China started the process of opening up its borders to the rest of the world. Within three decades, China had been recognized as a leading economy in the world. It is estimated that by 2050 China is poised to become the biggest economy in the world overtaking both United States and Japan.  According to Fukuyman and Kent (2008) the integration of China to the rest of the world is perhaps the most important step that the country has taken in the course of the century.  Hoisting the Beijing Olympic in 2008 was one of the factors which showed that China has come of age and a major player in the global affairs. (Kamalipour, 2007).

Globalization as a phenomenon has been fueled by several factors.  As we have said, globalization has been measured only in terms of economic integration of the world. According to Appadurai (2000) economic integration can be considered as one of the earlier factors that enabled the process to take root in the world. As early as 1890s, the concept of globalization had been conceptualized in term of establishment of multinationals in the world. The concept of globalization only took roots beginning from 1950s when other aspects of globalization like culture integration took root.

Since 1980s, the advance in information and communication technology can be attributed to have brought about a new dimension in the process of globalization (Hamelink, 2007).  The increased use of information and communication technology gave a new turn to the integration of the world.  Information technology has in turn supported the development of world media which has enabled the process of globalization to take root.

Appadurai (2001) argue that globalization has been supported by different concepts. However the most important concepts have been economic integration and social cultural exchange between different countries in the world.  However, all these concepts cannot achieve their aim of linking different continents without the media. Therefore we can argue that the media may have been the single most important factor that has enabled the process of globalization to take place (Kamalipour, 2008). The media has been influential in informing different people in the world on developments that have taken pane in the world. The globalization of media is the most important tool that has supported globalization.

As we have noted earlier, China had remained closed to the rest of the world for a long time.  According to Fukuyman and Kent (2008) the coming of China to the world limelight can be explained by two important facets of globalization. First, it has been the economic success of the country.  Since the country opened its market in 1970s, China has attracted a lot of foreign investors who have established their operations in the country. In deed, the recent trend in business has been setting up operation in China. After realizing its economic advantage and disadvantage, China came up with a low priced labor economic model with production geared towards the export market.  This played a crucial role in ensuring that the country cut an edge in the economic front in the world.

Second, the media was another factor that played an important role in globalization of China. The media was crucial marketing China and the economic opportunities available to the limelight of the world. The media detracted and supported China in various ways. In deed, the media has been a blessing and a curse to the flamboyant country which has integrated the socialist and capitalist political ideals to model its current economy.

While the media had exposed what is good about China on the growing economy, it has at the same time exposed the negative side of China including the abuse of human rights and increased environmental pollution in pursuit of economic impact (Kamalipour, 2008)..  The media exposed the economic flamboyant of China as a suitable investment destination but at the same time exposed China as an autocratic regime which has not respect for human rights.

The two aspects of globalization can explain the effect of hosting Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.  Unlike other countries which have even hosted the Olympic Games, Beijing Olympic Games was hosted like any other but had a different purpose and importance to China as a country. As we shall see in our discussion later, Beijing Olympic Games may not have  been hosted for economic reasons only but also for the purpose of marketing the country and correcting the  distorted  perception of the country to the rest of the world. Therefore the two most important factors in the hosting of the games was the economic aspect in that it was expected that the games would bring in more investors apart from the increased spending by the visitors and at the same time the event would receive international attention through the media. This means that the media was expected to play an important role in marketing the country in a positive way. This was indeed achieved since it has been argued that the media refrained from exposing the negative events happening in China in the course of the Olympic Games.

Let us look the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and understand the event well. This will gives us an understanding of globalization aspects of media and economic impact.

The 2008 Summer Olympic Games was the official games for the XXIX Olympiad. It was a major sporting event which took place in Beijing in China between August 8 and August 24, 2008.  In the   course of the game, there were more than 10,500 athletes who took place in more than 302 events and 28 sporting events.  This was the first major summer or winter event games to have taken place in China after a wait to host such an event since the turn of the 20th century.  This also made china the 22nd national to host the event.

Beijing was awarded the chance to host the Olympic event on July 13th 2001. This was after an exhaustive ballot of the International Olympic Committee or the IOC. Immediately, Beijing dubbed the event with the logo ‚ÄúDancing Beijing‚ÄĚ which features a calligraphic character jing which was used to mean the capital in referring to the hosting city. ¬†In course of preparation for the event, the Chinese harnessed the potentiality of the different sectors that would ensure success of the games.¬†¬† As Yardley (2008) argues, the government invested heavily on building new facilities and improving the transportation system.¬† The government made a lot of financial commitment in order to ensure the success of the system.

¬†In preparation for event, the government constructed more than 37 venues which were used in the event. ¬†This included 12 new venues which were constructed from scratch.¬†¬† This involved a commitment of more than $40 billion. However was we argued earlier, the event was not seen much as an economical success for the country but it was rather viewed in terms of the image it would create for the country. This means that the success of the event was not an option since it had to create an image of ‚Äúperfect china‚ÄĚ.

Despite the initial criticism, Beijing 2008 Olympic Games were considered a success by Jacques Rogge, who is the president of the IOC. In his closing comment, he asserted that the IOC did not have any regret in choosing China as a host of the Olympic event.  However this came after IOC had been highly criticized for giving Beijing a chance to host the event despite its human rights record (Yardley, 2008).

Beijing Olympic Games has been considered one of the most important Olympic Games in the world. The Olympic Games is not only a competitive event but it also brings the world together. The Beijing Olympic was considered one of the well prepared and very successful Olympic games in the world.  Considering the situation of Beijing and the human rights activities surrounding China, Beijing Olympic was meant to bring China to the world limelight in a positive manner in all its aspects (Yardley, 2008).

The 2008 Beijing Olympic had a lot of impact in the world. The Olympics had a lot of social economic impact not only in Beijing as a city but to China as a country. Although the economic impact of the games economically was far less than expected, China preparation of the games and organization of the event showed that the country had become of age. However there are serious human rights and environmental pollutions issues that were brought out by the media on the course of the games.

Economic impact of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

One of the key factors that are considered in the preparation of international events is the economical ability of the country to prepare all the needed facilities to host the event. When China was selected to host the event, there were no doubts that the country was equal to the task and had all the needed economic resources.  With the economy growing by double digits for more than three decades, the Olympic Committee must have gauged the ability of the country to successfully prepare and host such an event.   Economically, China was therefore well positioned to host the event.

The scramble for hosting international events like the Olympic Games comes after a cost-benefit analysis of the event. There must consideration of the overall cost that the country will incur and the overall economic benefits that the country will have in return. In most cases, countries hosting the event will be expecting to get economic returns through increased spending of those attending the Olympic event.

Hosting such a mega event like Olympic Games or other like a World Cup is important to a semi-peripheral state like China and it presents an underlying incentive to market itself to the world. However it is also a challenge to muscle the needed financial input to prepare for such and event.  Such peripheral states are not usually considered as liable to host such an event but this trend has changed of late and a number of these mega events have been hosted outside the semi-peripheral states.  Such events have great political and significance for the host nation.

Economic is one of the most important facets of globalization (Appadurai, 2001). As we had reviewed, globalization has been defined in economic terms since it is most evident.  The earliest studies on globalization began by looking at the expansion of multinationals which were establishing their operations in different continents.  In deed, it is through the operation of multinationals or in the business perspective that the concept of globalization has become so important to the world. The leading factor in globalization has been opening up of borders to allow for increased trade between different nations. With the opened borders it become easy to mobilize opening up of other factors of globalization like media and cultural exchange.

According to Fukuyman and Kent (2008) one of the most important factors for growth of China which has defined its rise to the current prominent position in the world has been the inflow of direct foreign investment by multinationals. The rate of direct investment in the country has been on the rise in the country driving the economy by double digit growth for more than three decades. The increased flow in direct foreign investment has also helped china to model an export oriented economy.

As a peripheral country, hosting the Olympic game presented a unique opportunity through which China would expand its economic grasp in the world. According to Yardley (2008) being the fastest growing economy in the world, China has not quenched its satiety for more investors and therefore a mega event like the Olympic Games was an important platform through which the country would sell itself to the potential investors.

In the course of preparation of the event, China spent more than $40 billion in building up the facilities that were used.  This was about 0.3% of the country’s total GDP. The preparation for the event started four years prior to the event with the country having to modernize most of its facilities in order to ensure that they were prepared to host the event.

Beijing Olympics was expected to have a lot of impact on the course of development of China. Like preparation of any international event, there is usually a heavy spending to make the event a success. Some countries are likely to incur debts to prepare for the event in anticipation that the debt would be paid by the preceding from the event. However   from the start, this was diminished by the fact that Beijing carries only 1.1% of the total Chinese population and its economic output was mere 3% of the total GDP of China.  For the four years, Beijing had spent more than $40 billion in preparation for the event. This was a less than 0.3% of the total Chinese GDP. Considering the staggering Chinese economy, this was not significant in light of the total economy.

In preparation for event, the government fulfilled its pledge of making the Olympic even one of the most successful in the world.  It was committed to making a positive image for the country in the terms of the success of the event.  Coming at a time when the country has been seeking increased foreign direct investors into the country, the government had to do all it could in order to ensure the success of the Olympic Games. Most important was the fact that the government chipped in to play a key role in financing the construction of new events for the games despite it having been the duty of Beijing local government.

 It is estimated that more than $40 billion roughly $42 billion were used in the preparation of the event. This made the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing the most expensive Olympic Games ever held. The British government has announced that it will not use more than US$19 billion in preparation of 2012 summer Olympic Games in London. In comparison also, the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games cost onlUS$7 billion while 2004 Athens Olympic cost UUS$15 billion.

Right from the preparation of the games, the government may not have anticipated a return of the total investment that it had made. It was focused on creating a positive image for the country.  According to Yardley (2008) the Olympic Games had a lot of impact on the infrastructure of the country which is important in developing the economy of a country.  The Olympic games had a lasting impacted on real estate  and the  infrastructure  that have opened up new  commercial areas that  might supports the development of the  suburban residential areas in the future.

In the course of the preparation for the games, the government has spent approximately $41 billion in the transformation of the city with majority of these funds being invested in the overall development of the infrastructure. In line with the intention of the government, these investments were aimed at transforming the city completely and ensure its continued growth in its population and economy.

The anticipation of the entry of more multinationals and luxury retails during and after the Olympic games called for unparalleled investment in different infrastructure in the country.  This saw increased investment in real estate and high end properties like offices which will continue to attract investors in the country. In preparation for the event Beijing had anticipated that tourist would bring in more than US$ 5.6 billion.  It has been estimated that there would be more than half million tourists visiting the country.  This number would drive consumption up and it had been estimated that this would lead to US1.8 billion in total consumption.

However it has been argued that China did not eventually meet the expected direct economic benefit from the games.  There was no increased spending as has been expected and most likely many would be spectators had shunned the event due to the increase fear of  violence and  threats of terrorism. However the preparation for the event had a long term impact on the future economic condition in the nation.

In the course of construction of the sporting facilities, it has been noted that there was increased flow of labor to Beijing in anticipation for the event.  Some have estimated that the total capital mobilized in the direct and indirect preparation for the event including the laying of the long term infrastructure could have been three times the estimated value of $42 billion which was announced by the government.  Most of the money was spent in form of labor which eventually raised the purchasing power of the population. It was estimated that the architectural industry alone provided more than 80,000 new jobs in the course of preparation for the event.

However the most important factor to consider in term of economics globalization and the Olympic Games in Beijing would be the image that would be crated about the country. For along time China has been associated with low priced and counterfeit products. The image of China products has therefore being perceived as low quality and uncompetitive in the world market. However the Olympic Games aimed at creating a different image about China in that it wanted to show that china could host such a major event with high quality. It was meant to re-brand the country and change its image in the world.

Therefore the intention of the government in re-branding the product ‚ÄúChina‚ÄĚ would go along way to influence the ‚Äúmade in china‚ÄĚ perspective to associate it with high quality and durable products. This would in turn raise the demand of Chinese product in the global market. ¬†The re-branding of ‚Äúmade in china‚ÄĚ would have lasting implications on the products from the country and would attract more foreign investors. This has been cited as the main reason why Chinese government may have decided to spend a lot in the preparation of the event even when it was not likely that this would bring about the expected financial returns.

Economically, the Olympic Games can be considered an important event that hoisted China to the world map and increased its chances of attracting foreign investors.  The Beijing Olympic Games branded new China that was capable of successfully organizing an international event. Although short term economic impact may not be seen understood, the long term investment in the building of the infrastructure is the most important economic assets that map it to the global economic infrastructure.  Many hosting countries have experienced an economic downturn immediately after hosting a major event like the Olympic.  This has not been exception for china but it is expected that the long-term domestic growth and popular urge would stir domestic growth.

Media and publicity of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

The media was the most important tool that assisted China to achieve its goals of hosting the Olympic Games.  In the historical development of Chinese economy, the media had been very instrumental in ensuring that the country had been brought to the limelight of the world.   The national media houses like Xinhua and international media houses like CNN, BBC and others has been instrument in exposing the positive and the negative part of China.

However for  most of the time, the Chinese image portrayal by the media houses has been defined by distorted images of  abuse of human rights and  others failures of the  communist regime. According to Fukuyman and Kent (2008) the media has been instrumental in exposing the weakness of the government especially issue relation go the abuse of humans rights and detention of environmental activist who were calling for planned economic development of the country  in view of the environmental preservation.

 As we said earlier, the media is perhaps the moist important tool in globalization.  One of the aspects of globalization is brining the locality to the limelight of the world which is achieved only through the media. The creation of the global media as we argued before has been instrumental in exposing what is happening in all corners of the world (Kamalipour, 2007).  Appadurai (2000) argue that although the media has been blamed for exposing only the negative sides of new relayed, we should realize that the most important work that the media should be assigned to as an agent of globalization is to expose area where the weak are oppressed.

In the process of globalization, the media has been the most influential factor. It has spread the emerging technologies and spread the emerging culture. The influence of the media has helped the world to understand issues pertaining to governance and other aspects of development in the world.  Ohmae (1995) assert that the media has exposed the positive and negative aspects of different regimes but most important bringing to the attention of the world issues pertaining to oppression.   The media has helped the world to understand what is happening in the war fields of Afghanistan to the suffering of Zimbabweans in the failed regime of Robert Mugambe. The media is the most important tool that creates the perception of a country by the rest of the world.

In reference to China, there may be different images that have been created about the country by the media.  We can say that the positive image has been creation of successful business oriented china which has attracted investors all over the word but on the other hand it has china that is associated with substandard goods.  It is the same media that can reconstruct that image.

This may the main reason why Chinese communist authority may not view the international media with a friendly tone.  The authority and the media have been in conflict path for most of the time owing to its continued exposure of the negative sides of china.  However  the  Olympic games was a chance for the country to show that world that it was another china from what  it has been considered to be. China wanted to court the media this time round to portray another image of the country to the world.  This was achieved in some way since during the event the media exposed only the positive side of the country and refrained from exposing the negative side.

In terms of media coverage, the preparation committee did everything to ensure that the media plays its effective role in selling out china to the world.  2008 Beijing Games was the first Olympic Games to be broadcasted in high definition television by the hosting broadcaster.  One of the most important aims in media coverage was meant to portray china as a nation   paying attention to media freedom. Therefore the government had to ensure that the media had the freedom to cover the entire Olympic Games.  In comparison to other Olympic games, Beijing 2008 games were a major milestone in ensuring equal media coverage.

In order to ensure that the media had the freedom in covering the entire event, the Olympic Evaluation Commission confirmed that there would be no restriction on the media houses and journalist covering the event.  There would be no restriction of the journalist moving up and down the in the course covering the Olympic Games.  However The New York Times later reported that although this promise was kept, media coverage was   contradict by the imposed strict visa rules, the long process of application of the visa and censorship.

 The most import point in selling a country through the media is the number of the viewers who pay attention to the event. According to Yardley (2008) One of the most important factor that Chinese government had considered in allowing unrestricted  coverage of the event was that the event would be viewed all over the world.  The main influence of the media lies in its ability to reach more people and compared to the other conventional way of communication.  The more the viewers of the event, the more influence it would have.

In term of the number of viewers, Beijing Olympic Games made a record with research showing that there were more than 4.7 billion viewers in the whole world. This was the largest number of viewer to have viewed a sporting event in the world.  This number was one-fifth more than that 3.9 billion viewers who had viewed the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.  According to the Nielsen Media Research, this was the most viewed event in the history of America.

This means that in terms of media coverage and viewing Beijing Olympic Games had was one of the most viewed event in the world.  From the start, it was evident that there would be speculation about the course and the success of the event. There was so much publicity that had been created around the event such that everyone wanted to know about its success or failure.  The ongoing speculation about China economic power and the negative reports surrounding its human right abuse and threat of terrorism during the event perhaps raised the speculation of many viewers who wanted to watch the event.

 The media also exposed the economic might of china and its advancement in technology.  American broadcaster NBC produced more than 2,200 hours of coverage of the event compare to the 2 hours online that it had produced for 2006 winter games.  The media used the digital economy in order to reach a larger segment of viewers in and indeed sell China to the world.

According to Yardley (2008) the intention of China in the Olympic Games as we argued before was for the sole purpose of selling china to the world or creating another image of the country.  There were various events that were extensively covered in the media that really indicated the intention of the country to portray another China from the one everyone has known.

One of the problems that had dented the image of China to the world is environmental pollution.  There have been several environmental activists and NGOs which have accused the country of prioritizing economic growth and foreign investment in some of the most important ecological set up in the country.  This had dented the image of the country all over the world.  Before the event started, the country embarked on extensive activities aimed at cleaning the air around Beijing city. Chinese cities are one of the highly polluted cities in the world with detrimental health effect on its citizens.  Cleaning the air around Beijing was therefore meant to show the environmental concern of china. This was tied with publicity created around the green economic model that the country is taking.

Before the Olympic event, there was an outcry about the relationship between China and Tibet. Yardley (2008) argue that during the relaying of the Olympic Torch which was dubbed the Journey of Harmony, there were several protests from the Tibetans who are asking for their independence. The Olympic Torch journey was the longest it has ever traveled in the world covering more than 137,000 since the tradition was started in 1936 Berlin Games.  However this journey was later to be dubbed the public relations disaster owing to the continued conflict with Tibetans.

During the Journey, the media was portraying the negative side of China in light of eth various demonstrations which were held all the routes the torch went through. This journey also marked the heightened call by the Tibetans to press for their independence.  All these protests were aimed at denouncing the Communist regime and its crackdown of the Tibetans.  In deed, it was during the journey of the torch that the media portrayed the negative aspect of china. However it is argued that this negative image was reversed by the positive coverage during the course of the Olympic.

Therefore we can assert that the media portrayed the positive side of china in the course of the Olympic event.  It was also instrumental in marketing different aspects of china including its economic opportunity, culture and many others.  Global influence of any country cannot be achieved without the spread of political and social culture. Fukuyama (1998) argues that many countries have drawn lessons from the practices of US conquest of Vietnam where it became very difficult to establish American influence without culture conquest. It is with this understanding that china took this chance to allow the media to sell it culture in the opening and closing ceremony. As china prepares for a possible world superpower position in the world, cultural influence remains an important factor to achieve this. Cultural influence should come along the economic influence in order to create an influential position in the world. (Hamelink, 2007)


Globalization is one of the most recent phenomena that have brought the world to a global village. Globalization has opened all corners of the world linking   them in different perspectives like trade, culture, and other others. Economic globalization has been the most important factor that has helped to link different countries. However globalization would not have bee possible without the influence of the media. The advancement of information and communication technology has been the single most important factor that has accelerated globalization with increased sharing of information.  Since 1970s when China opened up to the world, it has become important a major player in the global affair through its economic influence.

For the last three decades, China has maintained a double digit economic growth.  IN 2001 Beijing was given the chance to host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Although this came with a lot of resistance from the environmental and human right activists owing to environmental and human right record, China hosted a successful Olympic event.  After spending more than US$42 billion on preparation of the event and laying the infrastructure, china may not have reaped off the immediate economic benefit from the event but it has been marketed worldwide as a possible investment destination. The long term infrastructural development is the single most important economic achievement of the country that will have a lasting impact on its development.  At the same time, the media has played an important role in ensuring the marketing of the country.  Through free media coverage, the local and international media has marketed the country as an ideal investment destination apart from selling the culture of china to the world.  2008 Beijing Olympic Games was one of the most expensive and successful Olympic event in history that has a lot of implication on globalization of China.

Work Cited:

Appadurai, A. (2000). Grassroots globalization and the research imagination.  Public Culture, Vol. 12(1)

 Appadurai, A. (2001). Globalization. Duke University Press

Fukuyama, F. (1998). Globalization and culture. Merrill Lynch Forum.

Fukuyman, F. & Kent, C. (2008). East Asia multilateralism. John Hopkins University

Hamelink, C. J. (2007).  The politics of global communication. Belmont: Cengage Learning

Kamalipour, Y. (2008). Mass media, globalization and information gap. Purdue University Calumet, USA. Retrieved 9th December 2008 from http://lass.calumet.purdue.edu/cca/jgcg/2008/sp08/jgcg-sp08-kamalipour.htm

Kamalipour, Y. R.  (2007). Global Communication. Belmont: Cengage Learning

Ohmae, K. (1995).  The end of the nation state: The rise of regional economics.  New York: The Free Press.

Yardley, J. (2008). After glow of games, what’s next for china? New York Times, August 2008. Retrieved 9th December 2008 from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/25/sports/olympics/25china.html

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