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Department of Geography Political Geography

Political Geographies of Sports Mega Events and Urbanisation

PGG postdoctoral fellow Daniel Wolfe has published a new article titled “The Juggernaut Endures: Protest, Potemkinism, and Olympic Reform” in the journal Leisure Studies.

Sports Mega Events and Urbanisation

The article explores the relationship between mega sports events and urban reconfiguring and dispossession. Wolfe notes, “the paper employs the notion of Potemkinism in order to make sense of the divergence between rhetoric and reality in the prolonged process of Olympic reform. Thinking through Potemkinism, the paper explores the strategies of reform and tactics of protest at play in Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028, and highlights the continued lack of meaningful progress despite the appearance of change.”

The paper is open access and the abstract and citations are below:  

Mega-events like the Olympics and the Football World Cup routinely harm host cities and societies, largely due to their linkages with ambitious urban development agendas. Concurrently, reside nt protest has had only limited success in mitigating mega-event-related damages, notwithstanding the growth of resistance networks at local, national, and transnational scales. Contextualised within the broader processes of the Agenda 2020 and New Norm Olympic reforms, this paper explores the tactics of protest against the Summer Olympics in Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. In so doing, the paper demonstrates how the reforms have moderated some of the more egregious aspects of mega-event harm, while nevertheless preserving some fundamental problems with hosting, albeit in more diffuse or disguised forms. The paper makes sense of these processes through the notion of Potemkinism, conceptualised as a dynamic between the superficial and the substantive, and predicated on obfuscation or concealment. The paper also presents a taxonomy of tactics adopted by host city residents to counter the problems that persist in these processes of Potemkin reform.

Citation: Wolfe, Sven Daniel. “The Juggernaut Endures: Protest, Potemkinism, and Olympic Reform.” Leisure Studies 0, no. 0 (March 29, 2023): 1–15.

Dr Daniel Wolfe’s interview on this subject with Sportschau ->