chapter  Chapter 11
24 Pages

Olympic level playing fields

ByJohn Horne, Garry Whannel

The Olympics uses its difference as a ‘movement’ with an ideology different from other world cups and commercial events to provide it with its own distinctive ‘brand’. Sport, fairness, and a level playing field are also difficult to achieve since inequalities in material conditions give rise to massive disparities in resources between nations, which tables showing medals per capita or GDP reveal, and which media constructions of valiant but ultimately unsuccessful athletes such as ‘Eric the Eel’ portray. A report for the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) in 2017, the fifth in a series on women in the Olympics sponsored by the WSF, concluded that while the situation has been improving there remains ‘much work to be done on the participation, leadership and media fronts’. Media coverage of the 2012 Olympics, and all Olympic Games subsequently, needs to be examined in terms of the racialized construction of potential and previous Olympic champions.