Students travel to Beijing to examine business behind the Games

Thursday, August 7

Twenty-eight graduate students traveled across the globe this week to witness the Olympic Games in Beijing, hoping to learn more about the enormous financial and marketing forces behind the historic event.

Led by professor Lisa Delpy Neirotti, who teaches “International Experience: Behind the Scenes of the 2008 Olympic Games,” the students will study why people attend the Olympics, what they are there to see, and how much money they are spending. It is Neirotti’s ninth consecutive trip to the Olympics with students and is slated to last 20 days.

“There is no other event like it, and it is an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Beijing, one of most powerful countries in the world, and experience the international atmosphere at the Olympics,” Neirotti said.

During their stay in Beijing, the students will have special access to hospitality areas where Olympic athletes prepare for their events. They also plan to meet with representatives from the International Olympic Committee, the Beijing Organizing Committee, the U.S. Embassy and other groups that are involved with the Games.

“You can see the Olympics on TV, but you don’t know what are the minute-by-minute details, how to manage athletes and VIP spectators, making sure everything is efficient and effective on the playing field, and why corporations are spending $300 million plus on this event,” Neirotti said.

Although four undergraduates are taking the sports management and tourism course, most of the students are working towards a master’s degree in business administration.

“This class has afforded us the opportunity to see more than just the Olympic Games themselves,” said Lila Lee, a graduate student in the School of Business. “We get the opportunity to understand the thoughts and efforts that go into staging this event and the ancillary events that will take place. It definitely goes beyond the ordinary tourist experience.”

The students had to arrive in China by Monday, but many chose to come early to see the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square. Students are paying for all of the expenses of the class and trip, which Neirotti said is about $6,500 per person.

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