2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

Liv Yoon

The University of British Columbia
Understanding Olympic-related Developments from Local Residents’ Perspectives: The Case of Mount Gariwang for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games

In this presentation I explore the experiences of local residents who live(d) near Mount Gariwang, a formerly protected area that was developed into the official alpine ski venue for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea. With the exception of a few studies (e.g.  Kennelly, 2015; Kennelly and Watt, 2011, 2012, 2013), research about how Olympic-related transformations and inequalities are felt and experienced by Olympic host-city inhabitants is rare. This is a surprising gap given the increasing acknowledgement of mega-events’ negative impact on marginalized populations, such as loss of housing through gentrification and displacement (Horne and Whannel, 2012; Kennelly, 2015; Lenskyj, 2000, 2008). Understanding the impacts from the locals’ perspective is important particularly because organizing committees often claim to act on their behalf. 

I report findings from interviews conducted with local residents about how they perceived, experienced, and responded to the controversial development. I contextualize emerging themes with information such as the degree to which Mount Gariwang was a part of their everyday life prior to the Games. Employing the lens of ‘crisis of imagination’ (Haiven, 2014), I close with a discussion of what this controversy reveals about the state of eco-politics, civic empowerment, and democracy.