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    How Nations Use Sport Mega-Events to Leverage Soft Power: A New Rise in East Asia

    Jeong, Joonoh (2021) How Nations Use Sport Mega-Events to Leverage Soft Power: A New Rise in East Asia. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    This thesis examines the phenomenon of how nations host sport mega-events for the purposes of leveraging soft power. In contrast to studying nations of developed or emerging nations, this thesis focuses on the East Asian region to compare nations that have hosted the Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. Therefore, the countries and sport mega-event that have been chosen to be compared are South Korea’s hosting of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, China’s 2008 Beijing Olympics, and Japan’s soon to be hosted 2020 Tokyo Olympics (in 2021). This inductive, qualitative research applies a constructivist/interpretivist paradigm, multi-method case-study research design – using interviews, focus groups, government documents, and print media. It sheds light on understanding why East Asian nations are competing to host sport mega-events, how those nations contemporarily define soft power, and if there is an East Asian style of hosting SMEs. The analysis focuses first on understanding each nation’s international soft power package. Next, the thesis touches upon how each nation defines soft power and looks into the nation’s domestic and regional soft power tactics, again providing a soft power package respectively. Lastly, using thematic analysis with the results, the thesis investigates whether ultimately there is a possible East Asian type of sport mega-event soft power package. Overall, this research claims that nations do host sport mega-events to leverage domestic, regional, and or international soft power. It supports the arguments that have been brought up in the field of study. Also, the interpretation of the findings show that there are overlapping soft power themes and tactics amongst each case-study, ultimately creating a kind of regional type of hosting sport mega-events. Therefore, this thesis’ conclusion is that there is indeed a possible regional type soft power package, although, the themes themselves could also be used to give a similar rationale why an individual nation would host a sport mega-event.

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