Soft power, sports mega-events and emerging states : the lure of the politics of attraction

Jonathan Grix, Donna Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)
2252 Downloads (Pure)


This article highlights and analyses a hitherto largely neglected dimension to the growing agency of large developing countries in global affairs: their hosting of international sports mega-events. Why are large developing countries hosting sports mega-events and what does this contemporary phenomenon tell us about the significance of, for example, the Olympics and the World Cup in global affairs? We explore these questions through brief examination of the cases of the three most active sports mega-event hosting states in recent times: Brazil, China and South Africa. The 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil provide interesting examples with which to explore developing country agency in the international system and in particular the discursive basis of that agency. We see the hosting of sports mega-events as the practice of public diplomacy by states to both demonstrate existing soft power capability as well as pursue its further enhancement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-536
Number of pages17
JournalGlobal Society
Issue number4
Early online date2 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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