chapter  3
23 Pages

Political and civil society and the Sochi games

ByRobert W. Orttung, Sufian N. Zhemukhov

What is the relationship between opposition political parties, civil society groups, and the organizers of mega-events such as the Olympics? Activists in the field, and academics investigating them, have come to mutually contradictory conclusions. One side focuses on how opposition and civil society groups can use the massive investment made in the Olympics by others as a platform through which they can hijack the international media spotlight to promote progressive change that the event organizers did not plan (Price, 2008). Along these lines, the Olympics present a political opportunity in the sense that Sidney Tarrow has in mind that, unlike money or power, ‘can be taken advantage of by even weak or disorganized challengers (Tarrow, 2011, p. 33)’. The other side argues that mega-events work in just the opposite way – allowing states and corporations to limit the input of civil society while they take advantage of the scale and limited time frame afforded by Olympic planning to act with little public oversight or scrutiny (Lenskyj, 2008).