Chinese Olympics: The Chinese view of the Olympic Games

When the Olympic Games opens in Beijing on 8 August 2008, it is only the third time the Summer Games are held outside the Western world and its former colonies. The international debate has focused almost exclusively on how hosting the Olympic Games could change China, but what does China think about the role of the games in developing their own society as well as the Olympic movement?
Below you can find answers to questions such as
  • What is Humanistic Olympics?
  • Will the Olympics change China, or will China change the Olympics?
  • What is the role of sport and the Olympics in Chinese society?

What is Humanistic Olympics?

Humanistic Olympics - renwen aoyun - is the key concept of the Beijing 2008 Olympic.

The term has two meanings:

  • Humanistic Olympics means the Games will promote a blending of Chinese and Western cultures and enrich both cultures in the process
  • People's Olympics means that the Games will provide an opportunity to train Chinese people for a globalised world

In 2005, Hai Ren, director of the Olympic Studies Centre at Beijing University outlined the concept of Humanistic Olympics at the Play the Game conference and situated it within social and economic developments in China.

Read Hai Ren's speech
Read a short journalistic version of the speech (opens as pdf)

Learn more at the website for the Humanistic Olympic Studies Centre in China
(in English)


Will the Olympics change China, or will China change the Olympics?

Many hope for a political effect on China from hosting the Olympic Games. But professor Susan Brownell, an internationally recognised expert on China and the Olympics, thinks it is import to broaden the scope of the discussions about what will happen when the Olympic Games are held in the least Westernized nation in the world.

In 2008, Susan Brownell published the book "Beijing Games: What the Olympics means to China", and some of the main points in that book is included in a presentation she made at the Centre of Olympic Studies in Barcelona.

In the presentation, Susan Brownell discusses three key questions:

  1. Can the Olympics really bring about social change?
  2. Will the Olympics change China?
  3. Will China change the Olympics?

Read Susan Brownell's presentation

FAQ's on the Olympics

Susan Brownell also contributes to the blog The China Beat where she is working her way through a list of questions that she is often asked by journalists about the Olympic Games in China.

Read the blog postings:

FAQ #1: Politics and the Olympics

FAQ #2: Will a boycott succeed?

FAQ #3: Which is the most useful Olympic Games to understand the Beijing Olympic Games?

FAQ #4: Should China stop Taiwan from coming to the Olympic Games?


The role of sport in Chinese society

When the Peoples Republic of China was founded in 1949, sports policy focused on mass sport and the elite sport barely existed. 60 years later the picture is radically different. As part of a nation building project, elite sport now consumes 80 per cent of the state's sporting budget.

Dr. Huan Xiong
, lecturer at the Institute of Chinese Studies at University College Cork in Ireland, is an expert on Chinese sports policy and has charted the development of Chinese Olympic strategy for as well as contributed an article on the most recent developments in China where grass root sports have emerged as a daily activity for people in Chinese cities.

Olympic Dreams: Chinese Elite Sports and the Olympics (conference presentation)

Fact-laden presentation held at the conference: Olympic Games in China - the price of the medal. The presentation traces Chinese sports policy and Olympic strategy from the foundation of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949 until today.


The Evolution of Urban Society and Social Changes in Sports Participation at the Grassroots in China (academic paper)

Since the 1980s, economic reform has led to a process of urbanisation in China that has also changed the infra structure of sports, sports values and forms of participation. Sport and exercise at the grass roots level is an indvidual and social activity that has become a new feature in Chinese urban life.

Download paper


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