Mega-events: Reporting on sport mega-events

The Olympic Games in Beijing belongs to the group of sport events that sports sociologists call mega-events.
In an introduction to the sociology of sports mega-events, academics John Horne and Wolfram Manzenreiter point to two key features of a mega-event

  • a mega-event has significant consequences for the host city, region or nation where it occurs
  • a mega-event attracts considerable media coverage - often on a global scale

There are three main reasons for the expansion and growing attraction of mega-events

  • The development of mass communication technology has created unprecedented global audiences for sport events
  • The formation of a sports-media-business alliance where sponsors are attracted to the association with sports and its vast audiences
  • Cities and regions are increaslngly seeing the hosting of sport mega-events as valuable opportunities for promoting themselves

Read Horne and Manzenreiter's full introduction to the sociology of sport mega-events

For journalists, sport mega-events raise at least three key questions

  • Who benefits from mega-events economically and socially?
  • What is the legacy and long-term impact from a mega-event on a host city or region?
  • What is the impact from a mega-event on local culture, beliefs and attitudes?

Below you will find links to sources of information that can help you when reporting on sports events as mega-events. They are divided into the following sections

  • General resources
  • Issue-specific resources: Housing, trafficking, security
  • Mega-event protest movements
  • Articles from Play the Game

General resources

Games Monitor
Behind Games Monitor is a network of individuals with a desire to inform and monitor the Olympic process and the local impact of the Olympic Games in London in 2012. The website provides links to news stories from all over the world, reports and academic writings examing the Olympics from a critical perspective on a variety of topics including

  • Displacement
  • Environment
  • Finance
  • Health
  • Jobs
  • Mega Events
  • People
  • Planning & Development
  • Politics
  • Security
  • Sport
  • Sustainability
  • Tourism
  • Transport aims to keep readers independently informed and up-to-date with information about the Olympic Bid process and candidate city bids from around the world. Also features news about bids for other sport events and has an extensive news archive.

Sports City
A global sports business portal with news about a wide range of topics related to the sports industry including broadcast and television rights, sports bidding, sports legacy and news from a wide range of sport events.
The SportBusiness Group publishes SportBusiness International magazine, TV Sports Markets newsletter, various intelligence reports and produce conferences tailored to individual sectors. It covers all sports, all, countries and all sectors and also publishes a free daily newsletter, Newslines, with news about the global sports industry.

Issue specific ressources: Housing

According to Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), cultural, sporting and political mega-events have been characterised by negative housing impacts for decades. Thousands of peple have been displaced and forcibly evicted from event sites, and displacement and forced evictions due to the urban redevelopment and gentrification connected to hosting mega-events are also common, as the cost of housing escalates and the city's stock of social and low cost housing diminishes.

Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)
The centre is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit human rights organisation campaigning for the protection of housing rights and the prevention of forced evictions. COHRE is based in Geneva.

See the centre's reports

Fair Play for Housing Rights: Mega-events, Olympic Games and Housing Rights (2007)

One World, Whose Dream? Housing Rights Violations and the Beijing Olympic Games (2008)

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justices. It has carried out a number of studies on the economics of the Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010.

See the centre's Editorial on the link between the Olympics and local housing

New economics foundation (nef)
nef is a UK-based independent think-and-do tank that was founded in 1986 by the leaders of the Other Economic Summit (TOES) which forced issues such as international debt onto the agenda of the G7 and G8 summits.

See the foundation's report

Fool's Gold: How the 2012 Olympics is selling East London short, and a 10 point plan for more positive legacy

Issue specific ressources: Trafficking

The links between sport mega-events and human trafficking are currently being explored by a number of organisations. According to the Canadian NGO, The Future Group, sport events can contribute to a short-term increase in demands for prostitution and other forms of exploitation around the event, and events can also facilitate entry of trafficked person as "visitors" before they are transited to other cities or countries for exploitation.

The Future Group

The Future Group is a Canadian-based NGO decdicated to combating human trafficking and the child sex trade.

See the group's report

Faster, Higher, Stronger: Preventing Human Trafficking at the 2010 Olympics (2008)

International Organization on Migration
Established in 1951, IOM is an inter-governmental organisation in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners to ensure the orderly and humane management of migration.

See IOM's report: Trafficking in Human Beings and the 2006 World Cup in Germany (2006)

European Parliament
Politicians in the European Parliament took a strong interest in the link between trafficking, prostitution and sport events in the period around the 2006 football World Cup in Germany.

Seee material for seminar on Forced Prostitution in the Framework of World Sports Events

Issue specific ressources: Security

According to Francisco Klauser from the Institute of Hazard and Risk Research at Durham University, UK, sport mega-events are often used as test sites for increasingly complex high-security technologies, which are later being applied not only at other mega-events, but also at more common places in the urban environment.

Institute of Hazard and Risk Research at Durham University
The institute has started a research project that uses the European Football Championships 2008 in Switzerland and Austria as a case study for examing the mediating role of a sport mega-event as at est field for the installation and use of new surveillance technologis in Swiss cities more generally.

Visit the website for the 2008 conference: Security and Surveillance at Mega Sport Events

Read Francisco Klauser's article about sports mega-events and security

Brief pdf-presentation of Research agenda on Risk-Security-Terror and Mega Sports Events

China's All-Seeing Eye
An article by Canadian journalist Naomi Klein that details how China is buidling the prototype of a police state. Many of the surveillance technologies will be deployed during the Olympic Games.

Munich Re Group
This global company based in Germany insures mega events against losses from cancellation of events, failure of television broadcasts and even bad weather.

Mega-event protest movements

Calls itself the "only truly independent watchdog of the 2010 Games". Collection of articles, news stories and a discussion forum on problems raised by the upcoming Olympics in Vancouver in Canada.
Unidentified Canadian activists are behind this website with a wealth of information that denounces Olympic Games as a "multi-billon dollar industry backed by powerful elites working hand in hand with their partners in crime: government officials and members of the IOC."

The Other Russia
The website of the main democratic opposition in Russia, The Other Russia, regularly brings English-language news stories with a critical focus on the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014.

Link to search on Olympics at the website of The Other Russia

Articles from Play the Game

Sport mega-events have been addressed specifically at the Play the Game conferences in 2005 and 2007. Below is a list with links to articles about sport mega-events from

Selling the city or selling it out (Play the Game magazine 2007)

World Cup 2006 research shows economic legacy (Play the Game magazine 2007)

London Olympics drain grassroots sport project (Play the Game magazine 2007)

Olympic Games sent out to sea (Play the Game magazine 2005)

Mega-events could backfire (Play the Game magazine 2005)

Dr. Rachel Payne: Australian Identity, the Press and Major International Sporting Events (Conference presentation 2007)

Dr. David Rowe: Media Sport Culture: An Education in the Politics of Acquisition (Play the Game Knowledge Bank)

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