Olympic Economics and Spectacle
Television has brought a huge income stream to the Olympic movement, initially dependent on the USA, but since 1988 sponsorship and television income from the rest of the world have become significant too. For example, Istanbul, which applied to host the Olympic Summer Games for 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2020, has been doing so as part of a scheme to present Turkey as an emerging political and economic power. The development of spectator sport and professional sport can be interpreted in part as instances of capital penetrating and colonizing new areas – the experience economy. The great paradox at the heart of the Olympic Games is that this commodified and hugely lucrative global spectacle is owned and run, not by a private corporation with shareholders, but by what is in effect a combination of trust and an eighteenth-century gentlemen’s club.