Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Robert Barney


The last two decades have seen more and more cities joining the competitions for hosting the Olympic Games, resulting in soaring investments, both public and private, in Olympic-related projects. The Olympic Games have become a two-week gigantic event with tremendous costs burdening host cities. Meanwhile, the last three decades have witnessed underused facilities and lack of financial support for maintenance of the Olympic venues after the Games.

Based on previous literature, the “white elephant” effect has happened in every Olympic city during the last twenty years. In terms of Beijing, scholars have yet to substantially investigate the post-Games utilization of the Olympic venues in the city. This study made an effort to address this concern. This study investigated Beijing’s post-Games utilization of Olympic venues and examined what cultural, social, economic, political, and historical reasons underscore their current status. To achieve the goal, the researcher interviewed venue managers, municipal officials, scholars and sport administration officials in Beijing.

By describing the various conditions of the venues and analyzing the interviews, the study indicated that post-Games utilization of Beijing’s Olympic venues varied significantly. Use of venues differed depending on their ownership, administration system, management and operational mode, sports/event functions, locations, structural scale and complexity, and even their reputation and popularity throughout the city. In general, a brief summary in terms of utilization can be concluded. During three and a half years after the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games: (1) venues built on campuses were well utilized; (2) pre-existing venues were largely well utilized such as the Workers’ Stadium, the NOSC Stadium, the NOSC Gymnasium, the Ying Tung Natatorium, and the Lao Shan Mountain Bike Course; (3) multifunction venues were largely better utilized than those with mono functions such as the Beijing Shooting Range Hall and the Clay Target Field, the Olympic Archery Field, and the Shun Yi Olympic Aquatic Park; (4) medium scale venues were better utilized than the large scale ones such as the Bird’s Nest and the Shun Yi Olympic Aquatic Park; (5) those owned by the governments, especially the five district governments, were underused, which included the Feng Tai Sport Center Softball Field, the Chao Yang Park Beach Volleyball Ground, the Olympic Tennis Court, the Ming Tomb Reservoir Triathlon Course, and the Olympic Hockey Field; and (6), in contrast, those owned by the universities, GASC, and private enterprise, largely showed better utilization conditions than their government-owned (district governments) counterparts. Because of the co-existence of both well-used and underused venues in Beijing, the study contends that the status of Olympic venues in Beijing cannot be simply evaluated as either positive or negative, due to the complicated socio-cultural environments and historical and traditional background. However, some practical experiences in Beijing can be recommended, while certain lessons should be learned for the future.