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date: 17 September 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter tracks the diffusion of Western-style athletic culture in Japan and Korea since the late nineteenth century. It argues that modern teach sport was introduced to Japan and Korea by British and American educators and Christian missionaries. Many Western team sports were introduced to North Asia by the YMCA. Japan sought excellence in Olympic sports before World War II as evidence of its modernity. Sport served in Korea as a mechanism for expressing anticolonial nationalism. After World War II, economic growth enabled both nations to allocate more resources to excellence in elite sport. Hosting the Asian Games and the Olympics were considered by both Japan and Korea as a stepping-stone to achieving first-class nation status and international recognition.

Keywords: Japan, Korea, nationalism, anticolonialism, Christian missionaries, YMCA, Olympics, The Asian Games, economic development, World War II, the Korean War

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