Sport as Global Spectacle: 2020 Summer Olympics

Sport as Global Spectacle: 2020 Summer Olympics is a 4-week intensive summer study abroad program that will engage you with the cultural and global spectacle of the Summer Olympic Games. The 2020 Summer Olympics will take place from July 24 - August 9 in Tokyo, Japan. This program will run from July 11 - August 10, 2020. The first two weeks of the program will take place in Osaka and will be intensive class preparation along with guest speakers and the remaining two weeks will be in Tokyo focused around attending, analyzing and discussing the Olympic spectacle. You may have the opportunity to meet and hear from Olympic planning officials, local leaders and regional experts on the impact and significance of the Olympics in the region. This program will help you understand the local and global implications of international sporting events as well as the unique cultural spectacle the Olympics can cultivate. Students in the program will attend some official Olympic sporting events. 


What You'll Accomplish: 

As an engaged and active participant in this program, you will have the opportunity to:

  • develop greater understanding of anthropological knowledge
  • gain a deeper understanding of Sport as a significant social category impacting major aspects of social life
  • define and apply concepts of gender, sexuality, power, the body as a social artefact, race and racism, globalization, and capitalism

Tokyo, Japan’s busy capital, mixes the ultramodern and the traditional, from neon-lit skyscrapers to historic temples. The opulent Meiji Shinto Shrine is known for its towering gate and surrounding woods. The Imperial Palace sits amid large public gardens. The city's many museums offer exhibits ranging from classical art (in the Tokyo National Museum) to a reconstructed kabuki theater (in the Edo-Tokyo Museum).

Osaka is a large port city and commercial center on the Japanese island of Honshu. It's known for its modern architecture, nightlife and hearty street food. The 16th-century shogunate Osaka Castle, which has undergone several restorations, is its main historical landmark. It's surrounded by a moat and park with plum, peach and cherry-blossom trees. Sumiyoshi-taisha is among Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines.

Where You'll Live: 

You will be housed in 3-star hotel/guest house rooms in Osaka and Tokyo. A full itinerary of hotels will be given to you at the orientation.

You can expect the following in each hotel:

  • Double rooms (two students in each room)
  • Bedding
  • Breakfast
  • Shared bathrooms 
  • Communal lounge space 
  • Wifi 
  • Laundry service – extra fee

 We do our best to provide the most accurate information about housing and amenities but due to the nature of the locations in which we offer programs and limited availability, these items are subject to change. Contact your program manager with any questions.

What You'll Study: 
You will take two courses for six credits.
Information about how the courses on this program count towards general education requirements for different schools and campuses can be found here.
If you are seeking to count these courses towards a major, minor or certificate requirement, please meet with your respective advisor to discuss the program and what the courses will fulfill for you. 
Anthropology of the Olympics (ANTH1744)

The modern Olympic games have existed for more than 100 years. In that time it has become both a local and global spectacle incorporating now well established traditions and rituals from the lighting of the eternal flame to the medal ceremony. But what do these rituals and traditions mean to athletes, organizers and spectators? The Olympics are often described as an event that brings the people of the world together under the auspices of the sports’ altruism. However, the Olympics are also known to increase sex trafficking, gentrification of neighborhoods, and incarceration of targeted populations. Do the Olympics mean the same thing to everyone who are directly impacted by it? This course explores the role of ritual and tradition as public spectacle and the contested meanings derived from different parts of communities impacted by the Olympics. Since the Olympics involves the participation of world leaders, global dignitaries, multi-national corporations with their financial sponsorship of the Games and the athletes how do global politics and global economies come into play for local people, their economies, and their social life.  This course will explore the local impact that hosting the Olympic games has on local populations as well as the ways communities react and respond to the Games. 

The Olympics & Identity – Race, Gender, Ethnicity & the Nation State (ANTH1746)

The Olympic Games are and have been more than a sporting event that has captured the imagination and dedication of a global audience for over 100 years. This course explores the ways in which the Olympic games have become a venue to not only showcase sport but to teach, inform and establish norms around some of society’s core concepts. This course will demonstrate the ways in which our everyday understanding of gender, race, ethnicity, biology, and citizenship have been directly shaped due to the Olympic games. The Olympic games have been a steady partner with the development of nationalism, globalization, modernity and science. Topics such as gender verification testing, biological racism and citizenship will be discussed as part of the Olympic program. 

Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts: 

Nazir Noori

Salam! I’m Nazir and I'm your Study Abroad Program Manager. I was born and raised abroad and went to schools in Afghanistan, Iran, and the U.S. I also took classes in India and United Arab Emirates. I worked for the U.S. Department of State, USAID, and German Foreign Office for over ten years before moving to Pittsburgh in 2014. At the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, I assisted Afghan students to study in the U.S., and now I'm glad I have the opportunity to help you study abroad.

Schedule a Zoom appointment with me below or get in touch with me through email to discuss study abroad options.


Schedule an appointment

Schedule an appointment with me using Pathways!

  • Log in to Pathways or use the Navigate app
  • Select Appointments > Schedule an Appointment
  • Select Pitt Global as the appointment type
  • Select General Study Abroad as the School/Unit
  • Select Study Abroad Program Specific Questions as the service
  • Select Study Abroad Virtual Advising as the Location
  • Select my name and find a time that works for you

Don't see a time that works for you? Just send me an email!

Your In-Country Contacts: 

Dr. Gabby M.H. Yearwood

Gabby M.H. Yearwood is a socio-cultural anthropologist. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2012 with a degree in Anthropology and a focus in Black Diaspora Studies, Masculinity and Sport. His research interests include the social constructions of race and racism, masculinity, gender and sex, Black Feminist and Black Queer theory, the anthropology of sport and the Black Diaspora. Dr. Yearwood first became fascinated with the spectacle of the Olympics in 1976 when they were held in his home country in Canada. This early experience since childhood has continued to be a part of his scholarship, research and teaching.  Dr. Yearwood also serves as the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Anthropology. Dr. Yearwood also holds a secondary appointment with the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program at Pitt.



Items Billed by Pitt

  In-State Out-of-State
Tuition $4,656 $4,856
Program Fee $2,843 $2,843
Study Abroad Fee $300 $300
Total Billed by Pitt $7,799 $7,999

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Airfare ~$1,500
Meals and Personal Expenses $1,500 - $2,000


Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while abroad. Visit our Budgeting page for more information.

The amounts above are for the 2019-2020 academic year and should be used as estimates only. Pricing for 2020-2021 will be posted and announced in the fall term.
What's Included: 
As a part of your program fee, the follow are included in the program:
  • Tuition for six credits
  • Accommodation for the duration of the program
  • Daily breakfast 
  • International travel health insurance
  • Excursions to local areas of interest
  • Transportation from Osaka to Tokyo
  • Tickets to up to four Olympic sporting events (see Additional Information)


When You'll Go: 

Dates for the 2020-2021 academic year will be posted in the fall!

What Else You Need to Know: 
  • Tickets to the Olympic games are not available for purchase at this moment. While we are hopeful that our service provider in Japan will be able to secure tickets, we can’t guarantee that. We will let you know latest by January 2, 2020 if tickets are secured or not. If we couldn’t purchase tickets by January 2, we will give you the option of withdrawing from the program without any penalty.
  • Please note that we don’t know yet which games you will be taken to. But here are the events we have requested: softball, boxing, weightlifting, wrestling, volleyball, table tennis, water polo, and handball. (All would be non-medal rounds.)
  • You must have a valid passport and upload a copy of it to your study abroad application by October 25th. Your passport information is needed for purchasing tickets to the games.


We will hold an information sessions for this program to discuss all the details of the program and answer your questions.

Date: Wednesday, September 25

Time: 3 - 4 PM

Location: Room 3106, Posvar Hall