A thin line between a sport mega-event and a mega-construction project: The 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang and its event-led development

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Rationale: This article is concerned with the impact that hosting a sport mega-event has on regional development. Most academic literature on event-led development mainly deals with major international contests held in metropolitan areas. Unlike them, this research looks at a mega sporting event held in a small rural town and critically examines the economic and ecological impact of this event.

Approach: To do so, it investigates the case of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. This study chiefly rests upon secondary sources which include government documents including official statistics, civic organisations’ pamphlets, and media reports. While this may reduce the originality of this study, my synthesis of existing publications can offer an informative and critical account of the development project associated with the Winter Olympics.

Findings: The main discoveries of this article include (1) the most development and construction projects associated with the PyeongChang Winter Olympics are too large and too expensive to sustain in the post-event setting; (2) the creation of neoliberalist leisure industry in PyeongChang is at odds with the surrounding local communities; (3) different interest groups clash amid a series of irresponsible Olympic development projects; and (4) within these problematic circumstances the construction firms enjoyed huge financial and reputational gains.

Practical Implications: The construction corporations are the central players in the Olympic industry. There exists only a thin line between this Olympic Winter Games and a mega construction project. With the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics Games being awarded to Gangwon, it is necessary to observe carefully how this event will unfold in terms of the sustainability of the existing winter sports facilities built for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Research Contribution: This paper can be a useful addition to the academic literature on a sport mega-event held in a rural region.
Original languageEnglish
JournalManaging Sport and Leisure
Early online date22 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • sport mega-event
  • Winter Olympics
  • PyeongChang
  • development
  • construction

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