Loughborough University
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A meta-narrative review of Olympic education and its implications for realist evaluation of programmes for Tokyo 2020

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posted on 2018-11-27, 12:28 authored by Bo-Ra Hwang
This thesis has sought to examine the conceptualisation(s) of the field of Olympic education identified in the English language literature, and to evaluate the planning of Olympic education in practice, specifically in relation to the preparation of Olympic education programmes and systems for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. When Pierre de Coubertin introduced the modern Olympic Games, one of the ideas for the revival of the Games was to educate young people through sport. Despite Coubertin s educational philosophy, the Olympic Games have long failed to represent ideals of fair play, equal opportunity, and international harmony but being replaced by bribery, corruption, commercialism, drug use and gender discrimination instead. The IOC has strengthened the roles and mission of the Olympic bodies in particular relation to the promotion of Olympic values and Olympism through the implementation of Olympic education. As a policy aim for the Olympic Movement, the development of Olympic education programmes has become a key goal for the IOC and thus host cities/nations. Providing a concept of Olympic and Paralympic education programmes in preparation for staging the Olympic Games is a compulsory requirement for host cities and nations. However, in spite of the IOC s recent explicit and intended commitment to the development of Olympic education policies in practice, explanation of Olympic education as a concept and a set of practices is imprecise and relatively underdeveloped in the Olympic related area. In addition, there is a lack of understanding of how universal values and concepts of Olympic education are perceived and communicated in culturally diverse contexts. The thesis is divided into two related parts, which seeks to provide two fundamental contributions to knowledge in this field. Part One is focused on a meta-narrative review of the English language literature on Olympic education. The methodology of a meta-narrative review is an extension of the systematic review process and facilitates the identification of the contribution of research traditions to the phenomena under review, in this case the conceptualisation and operationalisation of Olympic education. Through the process of meta-narrative review, six research traditions were identified: educational philosophy; critical sociology; curriculum development; education psychology; development of evaluation measures; and policy analysis and evaluation. II The results of the review identified how Olympic education has been conceptualised with various unfolding storylines in different research traditions, and this analysis subsequently provided the basis for the second key element of the study in the form of templates against which to evaluate the Olympic education programmes and systems associated with Tokyo 2020. Part Two employs a case study approach and is focused on the analysis of six cases using a realist evaluation methodology, employing analytic logic models and analysis of Context-Mechanism-Outcome (CMO) configurations. This facilitates the development of explicit and/or implicit causal claims about changes brought about by Japanese Olympic education programmes. The research has also contributed to developing a critical review of Olympic education programmes in a culturally specific, non-western context. Provision of Olympic education, within the context of national legislation requiring its introduction into the school curriculum developed by various stakeholders, represents a unique and culturally specific context for its study. Not only its education system, but also the cultural and historical values embedded within Japanese Olympic education programmes derive from the Japanese understanding of Olympism and universal Olympic values based on the Japanese values such as harmony, in particular applied in the effort in the recovery from national disasters, moral values learned from Judo and physical education, and Japanese ways of expressing hospitality. Thus, this case study of Tokyo 2020 acts as an exemplar in the diffusing of ways of developing and delivering the benefits of Olympic education programmes in culturally specific context.


International Olympic Committee, Olympic Studies Centre.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© Bo Ra Hwang

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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