Thursday, March 12, 2015 | 5:30 PM EDT - 7:00 PM EDT

Dorsey & Whitney LLP |, New York, NY

China formally announced its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in January.  At first blush, it’s an unusual proposition:  Chongli, the proposed site for the Olympic Village and Nordic skiing events is 150 miles from Beijing, and Yanqing, the town suggested for Alpine competitions, gets about two inches of snow annually.  At a National Committee event on March 12, 2015 in New York City, Susan Brownell, a world-renowned authority on Chinese sports and the Olympics, discussed the significance of the bid for China, what it says about China and about the rest of the world.


Susan Brownell

Susan Brownell, a professor of anthropology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and currently a visiting professor at the Institute of Sinology, Heidelberg University (Germany), is an internationally recognized expert on Chinese sports and the Olympic Games. 

Dr. Brownell was a nationally-ranked track and field athlete in the United States before she joined the track team at Beijing University in 1985-86 while she was there for a year of Chinese language study.  She represented Beijing in the 1986 Chinese National College Games and set a national record in the heptathlon.  In 1987-88 she returned to the Beijing Sport University for a year of dissertation research.

Based on her experience with the team, as well as on extensive field research, Dr. Brownell wrote Training the Body for China: Sports in the Moral Order of the People’s Republic (University of Chicago Press, 1995).  She returned to Beijing in 2007-08 as a Fulbright Senior Researcher at the Beijing Sport University, conducting research on the Beijing Olympic Games.  She then published Beijing’s Games: What the Olympics Mean to China (Rowman and Littlefield, 2008).  She co-edited (with Jeffrey Wasserstrom) Chinese Femininities/Chinese Masculinities: A Reader (University of California Press, 2002).  

Along with colleagues Dr. Brownell was a member of the team of academic experts that worked with the Beijing municipal government to design the 2008 Olympic educational programs in Beijing schools and universities. She was an expert commentator for China Central Television during the Games.  She was also a member of an academic experts team working with the Shanghai World Expo in 2010. Dr. Brownell has offered policy recommendations on China’s national image to the Beijing and central governments, and was a member of the panel that evaluated the bids for China’s first “national image” television ad in 2008. From 2000 to 2008 she was a member the Selection Committee of the Olympic Studies Centre under the International Olympic Committee (Lausanne), and is currently a member of the Advisory Council of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.