A Study of the Effect of Olympic Games on International Political and Economic Liberalization Cycles
Division: Social Sciences
Dept/Program: Political Science
Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research
Mentor(s): Rogers Smith
Date of this Version: 27 March 2006
This document has been peer reviewed.
Since the birth of the modern Olympic Games in 1896, the Games have served not only as the foremost display of human athletic talent, but also as a venue that has fundamentally altered the international political and economic climate. This paper analyzes the effects of the Games by examining both how nations have deliberately sought to use the Games for their own political and economic benefit, and also how the Games have indirectly caused nations to shift their political and economic policies. By way of case studies, this paper first examines the political and economic objectives that nations hope to accomplish through their actions, and then analyzes whether these objectives were met. The case study analysis is primarily done by studying when and why nations have either boycotted the Olympics, or been involuntarily precluded from participating.
This paper ultimately concludes two things: first, it demonstrates the difficulties that nations face when they attempt to use the Games for political purposes, and second, the paper shows that participation in the Olympic Games, ultimately leads to political and economic policy shifts in participant nations. Case studies show that nations have had significant success in making ideological or symbolic protests through political action at the Games, but only nominal success at accomplishing substantive goals such as crippling the host country or other nations who seek to utilize the Games for economic, political, social, or psychological benefit. In contrast to this, case studies further show that the Olympic Games are indirectly responsible for noticeable changes in the political and economic conditions of some of its participant nations.