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The Olympics, soft power, and democratization : the role of bureaucracy / Kwang-Hoon Lee


Kwang-Hoon, Lee

Despite the privatization of its various components, the bidding process and the preparations for the Olympics are still initiated and tightly managed by central governments. Moreover, intentionally and unintentionally, governments use mega sports events such as the Olympics as a soft power medium in which to pursue their goals such as economic development and social integration and a lot of literature has already reviewed the economic and sociocultural impact of hosting the event. This chapter argues that the Olympics have been used as the medium to assist in the formation of legitimacy for a weakened authoritarian leader in the early phase of democratization in Korea. In addition, the chapter tries to explain how the bureaucracy contributed to the success of the national event and how it eventually impacted political modernization and the attitude of bureaucrats. To these ends, first, this chapter explores the influence of soft power on international competition by providing an empirical statistical analysis. Specifically, the chapter analyzes the process by which countries compete with one another for the privilege of hosting the Olympic Games as an important field of global interaction between political actors Further, the chapter discusses which components of soft power can affect international competition. To investigate the explanatory power and concrete applicability of soft power theory, the chapter looks at the influence of democratic and government dimensions of soft power on the selection of Olympic host cities and the role of bureaucracy during that process.

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