Skip to content Skip to footer

Sport and the artifice of nature and technology: Bio-technological entities at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games

Author:William W. Kelly

Source: Global Perspectives on Japan (GPJ), No.1 (2017), pp.155-174
Publisher: Forum Tauri Press
Keywords: Disability; technology; Tokyo 2020 Olympic & Paralympic Games; ethics


This essay turns to an anthropology of science and technology to propose that elite athletes, such as those who will compete in 2020 at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games must be conceptualized as bio-technological entities. For well over a century, modern sports, its participants, spectators, organizers, and commentators, have tried strenuously but unsuccessfully to define and defend strict categorical differences among the athletes. These debates have ontological, governance, engineering, and ethical dimensions. Drawing on the controversies over performance disability and sex assignment, I show that a distinction between the human and non-human, the natural and the technological, is unsustainable in assessing sports and that the elite athlete is always necessarily constructed by human qualities and technological elements.