The purpose of this study was to provide an analysis of an international sporting event as a possible catalyst for social change. Because of the unique circumstances surrounding the bid process, the dual hosting of the World Cup 2002 by Korea and Japan was seen as a unique opportunity to examine the power of sport as a catalyst behind change. Longitudinal secondary data were consulted to look at the economic, social and cultural impact of the event, while interviews with respondents in both nations gave more insight on how the respondents viewed the relationship between the two nations. Economic, social and cultural indicators all reflected an impact of the World Cup on the bilateral relationship. The interviews suggested that there were two main barriers to an improved relationship between the two nations (Victim mentality of the Korean toward the Japanese, Lack of awareness of Korea in Japan), and that it was not necessarily the organization of the event that alleviated these barriers, but the performance of the Korean football team.
Heere, Kim, Ogura, and Chung are with the Dept. of Kinesiology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX. Yoshida is with Biwako Seikei Sport College, Kyoto, Japan. Nakamura is with Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, Japan.