Through turbulence to influence: China's olympic journey in the context of globalisation and nationalism


Over the last 100 years China’s Olympic movement has been through turbulent times. Olympic sports were introduced into China during the colonial period via Western missionaries and schools. It has been part of the globalisation of China. However, China’s globalisation experiences in the 19th and early 20th centuries were largely painful encounters. Foreign invasions and subsequent unequal treaties brought social upheavals, financial losses and humiliations on both individual and national self-esteem. The development of Olympic sports followed a similar path. The economic reforms over the last 30 years have not only brought China out of financial poverty, but have facilitated China’s re-emergence in the Olympic Games. China rejoined the Olympics in 1984. For the first time in history, China broke its zero record in Olympic gold medal tally by winning fifteen gold medals in the Los Angeles Games. In 2008, Beijing hosted a spectacular Olympic Games and became Number one in the gold medal count. The paper will analyse this part of Chinese history and the motivation for China’s achievement in the Olympic Games. It will explain the reasons for China’s determination in modernising its Olympic sport sector from historical and cultural perspectives. The paper will reveal the system and processes that the Chinese government has put in place for the modernisation of sport in preparation for Olympic Games participation

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Last time updated on 7/9/2019

This paper was published in Federation ResearchOnline.

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