The Politics of Sport


Sport, according to the International Olympic Committee, is not just about finding out who can run faster or jump higher – it’s about inspiring all of humanity. The goal of Olympism, as defined by the Olympic Charter, “is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”

Then there is the financial angle. Sport is big, big business. The Olympic brand is worth more than Google’s. And Forbes recently pegged the total value of the 50 biggest sports teams in the world at $53.69 billion.

With so much at stake, it’s no wonder that sport is so often politicized. Sporting heroes become national heroes. National teams become stand-ins for a country’s power on the international stage. Medal counts become a measure of collective worth.

Below, OpenCanada considers the political aspects of sport, from the culture of cheating, to women’s rights, to the power of the Olympic boycott.

In the series


The London Security Spectacle

More than a billion pounds will be spent on security for the Games. Will it make anybody safer?

A Leap Forward For Saudi Arabia

For the first time, Saudi women will compete at the Olympics. It's a triumph for Saudis and non-Saudis.

What Politics Can Learn From Sport

Governments could learn from the Olympics says Dick Pound.

The Culture of Cheating

Does cheating in sports have anything to do with the culture of the athlete?