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The impact of the olympics on Beijing as a global city

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Economics
Wordcount: 2500 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The purpose of this paper is to examine the positive and negative implications of the 2008 Summer Olympics on Beijing as a global city and how it was managed in order to remain a global city. The Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) and Foreign Polices (FP) ranks Beijing presently at rank 15th on the Global Cities Index [1]. Currently, Beijing is housing over 22 million people with the population density of 1309.4/km2 and as China’s capital city, Beijing’s mission is to develop a purpose to rise in the rankings to show the world its capabilities. In 2001 Beijing was elected to host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, surpassing other global cities in votes including: Toronto, Paris, Istanbul and Osaka. For the first time in history, China was fortunate enough to host a mega event which would change the total image of the capital city along with the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, one of the world’s most astonishing events. Despite being placed under the spotlight of criticism and possible endangerment, Beijing rose to the task and demonstrated how it deserved to obtain such a mega event. Throughout this event, Beijing has demonstrated what political power the city contains through the creation of employment opportunities, massive structural development to host the event, the overwhelming density of tourism from hundreds of countries and the performance provided to entertain billions of viewers around the world. The Olympic Games provided Beijing with the opportunity to advance in the capability of being and remaining a global city. Overall, this paper will demonstrate the abilities of the capital city and the possible occasions that have reshaped Beijing in every possible feature, and what it can do for its upcoming future.

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Situated in China, Beijing constitutes a smaller area of the country which is located at the north-east end. In 1978, the law of open policy was passed which then started a large growth in the economic. [2] As a result Beijing’s population increased and the city was trying to develop a way which will decrease the spatial proximity for the citizens. Overall, the development of municipal transportation was obtained [4]. In 1981, Beijing was given a chance to start developing in the global business; M Moser associates began developing structures for the workplace environment firm which held 475 people [3]. From this, the city began emerging with the global economy which then transitioned the city into a global city. Currently Beijing is one of the most developed cities in China. It accounts for about 73.2% of China’s gross domestic products and is currently still developing rapidly.

During the development of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, Beijing was able to adapt quickly to the upcoming event. From this, the development of the Bird Nest was constructed, which is the center piece of the event. Costing approximately 423 million US dollars it is able to hold over 90 thousand viewers within the stadium. After the Olympic Games, this building became a burden to the city. Since the infrastructure was so large no other events were large enough to accommodate the empty building. A couple of months later the building became of use again; to host another large event, the 2009 Race of Champions [5]. Currently the stadium is still active, showing stunning opening and closing ceremonies every day. This attracts many tourists, Zhang Hengli the general manager of the stadium states, “The large number of tourists is out of our expectation. Even though the weather has not been very good lately, and it is not holiday season, we still see between 20,000 to 30,000 tourists every day,”[6]. Since the entrance fee is about 50 yan (7 US dollars) the stadium will be able to support itself for the time being. For Beijing to remain a global city it will need to increase its economy and since this structure attracts many tourists, it will serve as a great addition to the city.

During the days of preparing for the upcoming event, the public transportation system was also upgraded and it has expanded to be able to hold significantly more citizens and tourists. Also the Beijing Airport Terminal had extensive renovations as well as an addition of a new terminal. This terminal exceeds 1 million square meters which is able to hold up to 7 thousand passengers per hour [7]. These additions will be able to increase the number of tourist circulating the city, hence also helping local shops. In addition over time these renovations would show as a good investment since possibly more tourists that have not yet seen the stadium may flock to the location to glaze upon the amazing architecture of the Bird Nest venue.

Before the announcement of the Beijing Olympic Games, many families (about 2.5 percent) had unemployed members looking for a jobs for the past few years. Now since Beijing has applied the “Zero-employment” policy, it has eliminated a large quantity of unemployed members. The “Zero-employment” aims to assisting family without a steady income before hiring more members from the same family for work [8]. This shows a great improvement for the Beijing Municipal labor. Furthermore, due to the high amount of renovations and construction such as building the venues, upgrading the transit system and the addition of the airport, over 60 percent of unemployed citizens are now employed [9]. Similarly, looking into the future of the Beijing labor, these new construction areas will require workers to keep the areas well maintained for the future events such as the 2009 Race of Champions. On the other hand [13] stats,

“The Chinese government is facing embarrassing accusations that the licensed merchandise for the 2008 Beijing Olympics is being manufactured in sweatshops, in some cases using child labour. While the issue has created something of a scandal in Olympic circles, low pay, long hours and difficult, dangerous conditions are the norm in Chinese industry and have fattened the profits of global corporations for more than two decades.”

This shows that the Chinese government is only implicating the Olympic Games to gain profit and is not really concerned about the safety and health of their workers. As stated, companies will have employees lie to inspectors about wages in exchange for keeping their jobs. Beijing will need to change these conditions to remain a global city and demonstrate that they respect their citizens and employees with proper wages and safe working environments. As a consequence, Chinese citizens may immigrate out of the city or even leave the country in search of a better living experience.

On the Environmental aspect, Beijing is currently one the leading polluters of the world showing very limited transparency through their atmosphere [11 pg 511]. The level of the air pollution within Beijing is dramatically higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) standards [10, pg 239]. Since this would skew the chances of hosting the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, Beijing implied a significant plan to change the city into a ‘Green Olympics,’ which is an environmentally friendly Olympics. From this, the city began cleaning up the pollution and the atmosphere to make it healthier for the upcoming event; this is called The Olympic Effect. Due to these implications the pollution has drop 44% since 1998, which was obtained from converting coal power plants to natural gas and also shutting down multiple power and automotive plants [10, pg 240-41]. Figure 1and Figure 2 are the results of the study and this shows that the Olympic Effect was a huge factor in changing the lives of the citizens living in the area due to the fact that the lower air pollution helped avoid in 1999 alone 300 deaths [10 , pg 253]. On the negative side, Beijing should have already been concerned about their pollution and developed a strategy in removing the pollution before the Olympic Games came into play. This demonstrates to other cities on how Beijing did not apply any action on the rising pollution problem and ignored the health hazards for their citizens until the government understood that precautions where needed when the image of Beijing was being plastered over television. In the future, for Beijing to remain a global city, it will still need to reduce its pollution because this will demonstrate the ability and concern of the city which may reduce the amount of admitted to hospitals and possibly attract more tourists to the area.

Over time, the modern Olympic Games have become the world’s largest sporting event and attracting millions of tourists. During the implications of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, [12 pg 90 tourist] study shows that the Beijing residents believe that the Olympic Games improved the amount of tourist within the city. This will widen the image and culture of Beijing to the world and overall from this experience, the tourists may become attracted to the Chinese culture and increasing the future tourist economy. Since Olympic cities are widely talked about around the world, the locations become more attractive and are believed to be more unique as a tourist destination. [13 pg 179] states, “Still, hundreds of tourists from China’s country side and less cosmopolitan cites trekked to this rather bleak spot to snap photos of one another in front of the world famous arena and symbol of national pride and recent glory”. From [12 pg 98], even after the Olympic Games, tourism in Beijing and around it are still booming due to the general improvements and with the idea of becoming part of the world’s history. As a result, there is a strong correlation between the change of tourism within the city before and after the mega event. For Beijing to remain a strong tourism industry, they would need to be able to have more applications for the new venues and if the tourist industry relies on the fact that the Olympic Games took place within Beijing, it is possible that tourism may end up decreasing due to the fact that tourist like to observe new events or new changes that are stunning and pleasing.

In conclusion, The 2008 Summer Olympic Games had an enormous impact on the Beijing city. On the positive side, these new structures have been integrated into the city’s history and are still being used to help the local economy such as holding new events in the Bird Nest. Since the pollution has drop significantly it will lower the amount of health cases and also help give Beijing a better image along with increasing the tourism industry during and after the event, which may help the economy of the local cities. On the negative side, the country needs to apply more development on helping the citizens living in the area, such as decent wages and proper working environments. If they can overcome these situations they will be able to remain a global city which may increase the economy, culture, infrastructure and political image to the surrounding cities and the world. When this is accomplished Beijing will be able claim being a major power of economics and will be successfully in claiming its 2008 Summer Olympic Games slogan “One world, One dream”. From this, Beijing may be a globalize city for future years and with more outstanding accomplishments to come.


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[1] Ranking http://www.foreignpolicy.com/node/373401

[2]Conflicts in urban fringe in the transformation era pg 350

[3] http://www.downtownexpress.com/de_273/mixeduse.html

[4] Consequences of governance restructuring for quality of urban living ….

[5] http://www.motorauthority.com/blog/1032946_2009-race-of-champions-heading-to-beijings-birds-nest-stadium

[6] Xu, P., & Chisholm, M. (2009). China tourists twig to beijing’s bird’s nest. Retrieved 2010, 11/21, 2010, fromhttp://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE53L10L20090422

[7] http://www.architectureweek.com/2008/0730/design_1-1.html

[8] http://en.beijing2008.cn/news/dynamics/headlines/n214202082.shtml

[9] http://en.beijing2008.cn/news/dynamics/headlines/n214202081.shtml

[10] Blue Skies in Beijing? Looking at the Olympic Effect

[11] Sustainability as global attractor..

[12] http://www.wsws.org/articles/2007/jun2007/chin-j27.shtml

[13] after the gold rush


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