The Olympic Games and urban displacement: the case of Beijing
Liao, Hanwen and Isaac, David (2008) The Olympic Games and urban displacement: the case of Beijing. In: The International Sport Business Symposium, 12 Aug 2008, The Great Wall Sheraton Hotel, Beijing, China.Full text not available from this repository.
Urban spectacles such as the Olympic Games have been long perceived as being able to impose desired effects in the city that act as host. This kind of urban boost may
include the creation of new jobs and revenue for local community, growth in tourism and convention business, improvements to city infrastructure and environment, and the stimulation of broad reform in the social, political and institutional realm. Nevertheless at the other end of the debate, the potentially detrimental impacts of Olympic urban development, particularly on disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, have also been increasingly noticed in recent years and subsequently cited by a number of high profile anti-Olympic groups to campaign against Olympic bids and awards. The common areas of concern over Olympic-related projects include the cost and debts risk, environmental threat, the occurrence of social imbalance, and disruption and disturbance of existing community life. Among these issues, displacement of low income households and squatter communities resulting from Olympic-inspired urban renewal are comparatively under-explored and have emerged as an imperative area for research inquiry. This is particularly the case where many other problems have
become less prominent. Changing a city’s demographic landscape, particularly displacing lower income people
from the area proposed for a profitable development is a highly contentious matter in its own right. Some see it as a natural and inevitable outgrowth of the process of urban
evolution, without which cities cannot move towards a more attractive location for consumption-based business. Others believe it reflects urban crises and conflicts, highlighting the market failures, polarization and injustice. Regardless of perception,these phenomena are visible everywhere in post-industrial cities and particularly cannot be ignored when planning for the Olympic Games and other mega-events. The aim of this paper is to start the process of placing the displacement issue in the context of Olympic preparation and to seek a better understanding of their interrelations.
In order to develop a better understanding of this issue in terms of cause, process, influential factors and its implication on planning policy, this paper studies the topic from both theoretic and empirical angles. It portrays various situations where the Olympics may trigger or facilitate displacement in host cities during the preparation of the Games, identifies several major variables that may affect the process and the overall outcome, and explores what could be learnt in generic terms for planning Olympic oriented infrastructure so that ill-effects to the local community can be effectively controlled. The paper concludes that the selection of development sites, the integration of Olympic facilities with the city’s fabric, the diversity of housing type produced for local residents and the dynamics of the new socioeconomic structure.
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