The Tokyo Olympics 2020 sport stadium controversy
Exploring the role of star architects and global brands
The Olympics is a contested site of sovereignty in terms of power balancing between the political (government), economic (global capitalism), cultural (iconic architects) entities and citizens. The paper focuses on iconic Olympic stadia designed by star architects in the era of global capitalism and explores the shifting and multifaceted identities of the iconic architects in global cultural industries. Taking the 2020 Tokyo Olympic stadium as a case study, the paper unpacks the relationship between the material and symbolic infrastructure of iconic architecture, which involves political interests, economic capitals and sitespecific memories. The paper argues that the Olympic stadium is an ideal site to examine the strategically constructed images and values of iconic architects and spectacular architecture, and that reveals the narrativisation and commodification of star architects and iconic buildings necessarily make themselves into ‘a global brand’. In this context, the paper concludes that national grand architectural projects, such as the construction of Olympic sport stadia, cannot operate outside the regime of global and local politics, and beyond the logic of neoliberal transnational capitalism.