The Framing of Development at the Olympic Games

By Eric Michael French.

Published by The Sport Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Much to the chagrin of sports enthusiasts who would prefer that politics be left out of sporting events, Olympic Games are intensely political events. Among other political attributes of the Games, they afford a powerful platform for the host state to address the world. This paper explores the Olympic Games as an arena for issue framing—that is, the attempt to characterize an issue in a particular way, especially while emphasizing certain features of the issue and concealing others. Specifically, this paper focuses on two instances (the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 1936 Berlin Olympics) in which an authoritarian regime used the event to showcase the most positive features of its prosperity and modernity—or to “frame” its development in the most flattering way. The purpose of this analysis is to show how the study of international relations could utilize the concept of issue framing, which would greatly serve the study of the social construction of international relations, which admits the importance of international actors’ perceptions of each other but is conceptually ill-equipped to analyze efforts to shape these perceptions.

Keywords: Olympic Games, Development, Issue Framing, Nazi Germany, China

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.47-58. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 613.692KB).

Eric Michael French

Ph.D. Student, Political Science Department, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

Eric Michael French is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science at Indiana University, studying international relations and American politics. His research interests involve the topics of issue framing, public opinion, and foreign policy. Specifically, he focuses on the many ways in which political elites attempt to shape public opinion by framing political issues in ways that favor their political agendas.