The Urban Politics of Mega-Events

Grand Promises Meet Local Resistance

in Environment and Society
View More View Less
  • 1 Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York jlauermann@mec.cuny.edu
Restricted access

Abstract

This article reviews recent scholarship on the urban politics of mega-events. Mega-events have long been promoted as drivers of urban development, based on their potential to generate beneficial legacies for host cities. Yet the mega-event industry is increasingly struggling to find cities willing to host. Political arguments that promote mega-events to host cities include narratives about mega-event legacy—the potential for events to generate long-term benefits—and mega-event leveraging—the idea that cities can strategically link event planning to other policy agendas. In contrast, the apparent decline in interest among potential host cities stems from two political shifts: skepticism toward the promises made by boosters, and the emergence of new kinds of protest movements. The article analyzes an example of largely successful opposition to mega-events, and evaluates parallels between the politics of mega-events and those of other urban megaprojects.

Contributor Notes

JOHN LAUERMANN is Assistant Professor of Geography at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York. He is an urban geographer interested in the planning and impacts of urban megaprojects. His recent writing has appeared in Progress in Human Geography, Journal of the American Planning Association, Antipode, and Urban Studies. Email: jlauermann@mec.cuny.edu

Environment and Society

Advances in Research

  • Andranovich, Greg, and Matthew Burbank. 2011. “Contextualizing Olympic legacies.” Urban Geography 32 (6): 823844.

  • Andranovich, Greg, Matthew Burbank, and Charles Heying. 2001. “Olympic Cities: Lessons Learned from Mega-Event Politics.” Journal of Urban Affairs 23 (2): 113131.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Baade, Robert A., and Victor A Matheson. 2016. “Going for the Gold: The Economics of the Olympics.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 30 (2): 201218.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Baumann, Robert, and Victor A Matheson. 2013. “Estimating Economic Impact Using ex post Econometric Analysis: Cautionary Tales.” In The Econometrics of Sport, ed. Plácido Rodríguez, Stefan Késenne, and Jaume García, 169188. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishers.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Boykoff, Jules. 2014a. Activism and the Olympics: Dissent at the Games in Vancouver and London. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

  • Boykoff, Jules. 2014b. Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games. London: Routledge.

  • Boykoff, Jules. 2016. Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics. London: Verso.

  • Bramwell, Bill. 1997. “Strategic Planning before and after a Mega-Event.” Tourism Management 18 (3): 167176.

  • Burbank, Matthew J., Charles H. Heying, and Greg Andranovich. 2000. “Antigrowth Politics or Piecemeal Resistance? Citizen Opposition to Olympic-Related Economic Growth.” Urban Affairs Review 35 (3): 334357.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Casaglia, Anna. 2018. “Territories of Struggle: Social Centres in Northern Italy Opposing Mega-Events.” Antipode 50 (2): 478497.

  • Cashman, Richard I., and Rob Harris. 2012. The Australian Olympic Caravan from 2000 to 2012: A Unique Olympic Events Industry. Sydney: Walla Walla Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chalip, Laurence. 2006. “Towards Social Leverage of Sport Events.” Journal of Sport & Tourism 11 (2): 109127.

  • Chalip, Laurence. 2014. “From legacy to leverage.” In Leveraging Legacies from Sports Mega-Events: Concepts and Cases, ed. Jonathan Grix, 212. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cook, Ian R., and Kevin Ward. 2011. “Trans-Urban Networks of Learning, Mega-Events and Policy Tourism.” Urban Studies 48 (12): 25192535.

  • Cornelissen, Scarlett, Urmilla Bob, and Kamilla Swart. 2011. “Towards Redefining the Concept of Legacy in Relation to Sport Mega-Events: Insights from the 2010 FIFA World Cup.” Development Southern Africa 28 (3): 307318.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cottrell, M. Patrick, and Travis Nelson. 2011. “Not Just the Games? Power, Protest and Politics at the Olympics.” European Journal of International Relations 17 (4): 729753.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dart, Jon, and Stephen Wagg, eds. 2016. Sport, Protest and Globalisation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Datta, Ayona, and Abdul Shaban, eds. 2017. Mega-Urbanization in the Global South: Fast Cities and New Urban Utopias of the Postcolonial State. London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davidson, Mark. 2013. “The Sustainable and Entrepreneurial Park? Contradictions and Persistent Antagonisms at Sydney's Olympic Park.” Urban Geography 34 (5): 657676.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Degen, Mónica, and Marisol García. 2012. “The Transformation of the ‘Barcelona Model’: An Analysis of Culture, Urban Regeneration and Governance.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 36 (5): 10221038.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dempsey, Christopher, and Andrew Zimbalist. 2017. No Boston Olympics: How and Why Smart Cities Are Passing on the Torch. Lebanon, NH: University of New England Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eick, Volker. 2010. “A Neoliberal Sports Event? FIFA from the Estadio Nacional to the Fan Mile.” City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action 14 (3): 278297.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Enright, Teresa. 2016. The Making of Grand Paris: Metropolitan Urbanism in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Essex, Stephen, and Brian Chalkley. 1998. “Olympic Games: Catalyst of Urban Change.” Leisure Studies 17 (3): 187206.

  • ESC (Executive Steering Committee for Olympic Games Delivery). 2018. Olympic Games: The New Norm. Lausanne: International Olympic Committee.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association). 2017. Guide to the Bidding Process for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Zurich: FIFA.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Flyvbjerg, Bent. 2014. “What You Should Know About Megaprojects and Why: An Overview.” Project Management Journal 45 (2): 619.

  • Flyvbjerg, Bent, Allison Stewart, and Alexander Budzier. 2016. “The Oxford Olympics Study 2016: Cost and Cost Overrun at the Games.” Said Business School Research Paper 2016-20. Last revised 18 August.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fourie, Johan, and María Santana-Gallego. 2011. “The Impact of Mega-Sport Events on Tourist Arrivals.” Tourism Management 32 (6): 13641370.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gaffney, Christopher. 2015. “Virando o jogo : The Challenges and Possibilities for Social Mobilization in Brazilian Football.” Journal of Sport & Social Issues 39 (2): 155174.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gaffney, Christopher. 2016. “Gentrifications in Pre-Olympic Rio de Janeiro.” Urban Geography 37 (8): 11321153.

  • Giulianotti, Richard, and Francisco Klauser. 2011. “Introduction: Security and Surveillance at Sport Mega Events.” Urban Studies 48 (15): 31573168.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Giulianotti, Richard, Gary Armstrong, Gavin Hales, and Dick Hobbs. 2015. “Sport Mega-Events and Public Opposition: A Sociological Study of the London 2012 Olympics.” Journal of Sport & Social Issues 39 (2): 99119.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gold, John, and Margaret Gold. 2008. “Olympic Cities: Regeneration, City Rebranding and Changing Urban Agendas.” Geography Compass 2 (1): 300318.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gold, John, and Margaret Gold. 2013. “‘Bring It under the Legacy Umbrella’: Olympic Host Cities and the Changing Fortunes of the Sustainability Agenda.” Sustainability 5 (8): 35263542.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • González, Sara. 2011. “Bilbao and Barcelona ‘in Motion’: How Urban Regeneration ‘Models’ Travel and Mutate in the Global Flows of Policy Tourism.” Urban Studies 48 (7): 13971418.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Grix, Jonathan. 2012. “‘Image’ leveraging and sports mega-events: Germany and the 2006 FIFA World Cup.” Journal of Sport & Tourism 17 (4): 289312.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Grix, Jonathan, ed. 2014. Leveraging Legacies from Sports Mega-Events: Concepts and Cases. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Hall, C. Michael. 2006. “Urban Entrepreneurship, Corporate Interests and Sports Mega-Events: The Thin Policies of Competitiveness within the Hard Outcomes of Neoliberalism.” Sociological Review 54 (S2): 5970.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Horne, John, and Garry Whannel. 2016. Understanding the Olympics. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.

  • Jacobs, Jane. 1961. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Vintage Books.

  • Jones, Zachary M., and Davide Ponzini. 2018. “Mega-Events and the Preservation of Urban Heritage: Literature Gaps, Potential Overlaps, and a Call for Further Research.” Journal of Planning Literature 33 (4): 433450.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kaplanidou, Kyriaki, Kostas Karadakis, Heather Gibson, Brijesh Thapa, Matthew Walker, Sue Geldenhuys, and Willie Coetzee. 2013. “Quality of Life, Event Impacts, and Mega-Event Support among South African Residents before and after the 2010 FIFA World Cup.” Journal of Travel Research 52 (5): 631645.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kassens-Noor, Eva. 2013. “Transport Legacy of the Olympic Games, 1992–2012.” Journal of Urban Affairs 35 (4): 393416.

  • Kassens-Noor, Eva, and John Lauermann. 2017. “How to Bid Better for the Olympics: A Participatory Mega-Event Planning Strategy for Local Legacies.” Journal of the American Planning Association 83 (4): 335345.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kassens-Noor, Eva, and John Lauermann. 2018. “Mechanisms of Policy Failure: Boston's 2024 Olympic Bid.” Urban Studies 55 (15): 33693384.

  • Kassens-Noor, Eva, Mark Wilson, Sven Müller, Brij Maharaj, and Laura Huntoon. 2015. “Towards a Mega-Event Legacy Framework.” Leisure Studies 34 (6): 665671.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lauermann, John. 2016. “Temporary Projects, Durable Outcomes: Urban Development through Failed Olympic bids?Urban Studies 53 (9): 18851901.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lauermann, John. 2018. “Geographies of Mega-Urbanization.” Geography Compass 12 (8): e12396.

  • Lauermann, John, and Anne Vogelpohl. 2017. “Fragile Growth Coalitions or Powerful Contestations? Cancelled Olympic bids in Boston and Hamburg.” Environment and Planning A 49 (8): 18871904.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lauermann, John, and Anne Vogelpohl. 2019. “Fast Activism: Resisting Mobile Policies.” Antipode, published online 26 April. https://doi.org/10.1111/anti.12538.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Leopkey, Becca, and Milena M. Parent. 2012. “Olympic Games Legacy: From General Benefits to Sustainable Long-Term Legacy.” International Journal of the History of Sport 29 (6): 924943.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Matheson, Victor A. 2009. “Economic Multipliers and Mega-Event Analysis.” International Journal of Sport Finance 4 (1): 6370.

  • McCann, Eugene. 2013. “Policy Boosterism, Policy Mobilities, and the Extrospective City.” Urban Geography 34 (1): 529.

  • McGillivray, David, Gayle McPherson, and Laura Misener. 2018. “Major Sporting Events and Geographies of Disability.” Urban Geography 39 (3): 329344.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McMichael, Christopher. 2012. “Hosting the World: The 2010 World Cup and the New Military Urbanism.” City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action 16 (5): 519534.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McNeill, Donald. 2005. “Dysfunctional Urbanism.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 29 (1): 201204.

  • Millington, Rob, and Simon C. Darnell. 2014. “Constructing and Contesting the Olympics Online: The Internet, Rio 2016 and the Politics of Brazilian Development.” International Review for the Sociology of Sport 49 (2): 190210.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Minnaert, Lynn. 2012. “An Olympic Legacy for All? The Non-infrastructural Outcomes of the Olympic Games for Socially Excluded Groups (Atlanta 1996–Beijing 2008).” Tourism Management 33 (2): 361370.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moser, Sarah, Marian Swain, and Mohammed H. Alkhabbaz. 2015. “King Abdullah Economic City: Engineering Saudi Arabia's post-oil future.” Cities 45: 7180.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Müller, Martin. 2015. “The Mega-Event Syndrome: Why So Much Goes Wrong in Mega-Event Planning and What to Do About It.” Journal of the American Planning Association 81 (1): 617.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Müller, Martin. 2017. “How Mega-Events Capture Their Hosts: Event Seizure and the World Cup 2018 in Russia.” Urban Geography 38 (8): 11131132.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • O'Brien, Danny, and Sarah Gardiner. 2006. “Creating Sustainable Mega Event Impacts: Networking and Relationship Development through Pre-Event Training.” Sport Management Review 9 (1): 2547.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oliver, Robert, and John Lauermann. 2017. Failed Olympic bids and the Transformation of Urban Space. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Paton, Kirsteen, Gerry Mooney, and Kim McKee. 2012. “Class, Citizenship and Regeneration: Glasgow and the Commonwealth Games 2014.” Antipode 44 (4): 14701489.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pereira, Rafael H. M. 2018. “Transport Legacy of Mega-Events and the Redistribution of Accessibility to Urban Destinations.” Cities 81: 4560.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Preuss, Holger. 2004. The Economics of Staging the Olympics: A Comparison of the Games, 1972–2008. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishers.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Preuss, Holger. 2007. “The Conceptualisation and Measurement of Mega Sport Event Legacies.” Journal of Sport & Tourism 12 (3–4): 207228.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Raco, Mike. 2013. “Governance as legacy: project management, the Olympic Games and the creation of a London model.” International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development 5 (2): 172173.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Raco, Mike. 2014. “Delivering flagship projects in an era of regulatory capitalism: state-led privatization and the London Olympics 2012.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38 (1): 176197.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Salazar, Noel, Christiane Timmerman, Johan Wets, and Van den Broucke, eds. 2017. Mega-event Mobilities: A Critical Analysis. London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Samatas, Minas. 2007. “Security and Surveillance in the Athens 2004 Olympics: Some Lessons From a Troubled Story.” International Criminal Justice Review 17 (3): 220238.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Silvestre, Gabriel. 2013. “Mobile Olympic Planning: The Circulation of Policy Knowledge between Barcelona and Rio de Janeiro 1993–1996.” Paper presented at “Geografias, Políticas Públicas e Dinâmicas Territoriais,” Campinas, Spain, 7–10 October.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Smith, Andrew. 2012. Events and Urban Regeneration: The Strategic Use of Events to Revitalise Cities. London, New York: Routledge.

  • Smith, Andrew. 2014. “Leveraging Sport Mega-Events: New Model or Convenient Justification?Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events 6 (1): 1530.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stewart, Allison, and Steve Rayner. 2016. “Planning Mega-Event Legacies: Uncomfortable Knowledge for Host Cities.” Planning Perspectives 31 (2): 157179.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Surborg, Björn, Rob VanWynsberghe, and Elvin Wyly. 2008. “Mapping the Olympic Growth Machine.” City 12 (3): 341355.

  • Thomson, Alana, Graham Cuskelly, Kristine Toohey, Millicent Kennelly, Paul Burton, and Liz Fredline. 2018. “Sport Event Legacy: A Systematic Quantitative Review of Literature.” Sport Management Review 22 (3): 295321. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smr.2018.06.011.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Timms, Jill. 2012. “The Olympics as a Platform for Protest: A Case Study of the London 2012 ‘Ethical’ Games and the Play Fair Campaign for Workers’ Rights.” Leisure Studies 31 (3): 355372.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Timms, Jill. 2017. “The Relay of Mega-Event Activism: Why Campaign Gains Do Not Travel Well.” In Mega-Event Mobilities: A Critical Analysis, ed. Noel B. Salazar, Christine Timmerman, Johan Wets, and Sarah Van den Brouke. London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tufts, Steven. 2004. “Building the ‘Competitive City’: Labour and Toronto's Bid to Host the Olympic Games.” Geoforum 35 (1): 4758.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Viehoff, Valerie, and Gavin Poynter, eds. 2016. Mega-Event Cities: Urban Legacies of Global Sports Events. London: Routledge.

  • Watson, Vanessa. 2014. “African Urban Fantasies: Dreams or Nightmares?Environment and Urbanization 26 (1): 215231.

  • Weber-Newth, Francesca, Sebastian Schlüter, and Ilse Helbrecht. 2017. “London 2012: ‘Legacy’ as Trojan Horse.” ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 16 (4): 713739.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang, Jingxiang, and Fulong Wu. 2008. “Mega-Event Marketing and Urban Growth Coalitions: A Case Study of Nanjing Olympic New Town.” Town Planning Review 79 (2–3): 209226.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang, Li, and Simon Xiaobin Zhao. 2009. “City Branding and the Olympic Effect: A Case Study of Beijing.” Cities 26 (5): 245254.

  • Ziakas, Vassilios. 2015. “For the Benefit of All? Developing a Critical Perspective in Mega-Event Leverage.” Leisure Studies 34 (6): 689702.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zimbalist, Andrew. 2015. Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 435 417 39
Full Text Views 58 37 0
PDF Downloads 97 62 0