Mega sport events and spatial management: Zoning space across Rio’s 2016 Olympic city

David McGillivray, Mike Duignan, Eduardo Mielke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
91 Downloads (Pure)


Hosting the Olympic Games demands the efficient and effective sequestration of public space across the city to stage official sports, cultural, and commercial activities. Specifically, this paper examines how fast-tracked urban development processes create exclusive, commercial enclaves to maximize leverageable benefits for external actors. We focus on the case of Rio 2016, drawing on: (i) observations across the city and event zones, including Live Site, Last Mile, and transit spaces, (ii) interviews with key event, policy and visitor economy stakeholders, (iii) documentary analysis of Rio’s plans and promises outlined in official bid documentation, and (iv) supplementary sources documenting Olympic planning effects. Our findings illustrate how the legal power of the Host City Contract and highly-circumscribed Olympic regulations create the conditions for managing urban space that enables the circulation of visitor flows to – and the containment of consumption within – newly privatized, temporarily constructed urban zones that favour global interests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-303
Number of pages24
JournalAnnals of Leisure Research
Issue number3
Early online date21 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2020


  • Mega sport events
  • Rio 2016 Olympic Games
  • event zones
  • spatial management
  • visitor circulation and containment
  • visitor economy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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