Talking about the ‘rotten fruits’ of Rio 2016: Framing mega-event legacies

Adam Talbot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
122 Downloads (Pure)


Legacy has become a watchword of hosting mega-events in recent years, used to justify massive spending and far-reaching urban transformations. However, academic studies of legacy outcomes suggest there is only limited evidence for the efficacy of using mega-events to deliver broader policy goals. The discourse of legacy promulgated by the International Olympic Committee promotes a fantastical vision of the possibilities created by mega-events while obfuscating critical analyses of legacy. This paper explores legacy talk among a wholly different group – activists who have protested against the Olympic Games, specifically in Rio de Janeiro – based on interviews conducted two years after the Games as part of a broader ethnographic study. The positive connotations of legacy, even among these Olympic critics, places a straitjacket on conversation, leading activists to discuss specific legacy projects, at the expense of highlighting the very real harms of mega-event development, such as evictions, gentrification and militarization. As such, there is a need to deepen understanding that legacy encompasses all that is left behind after mega-events, not only the positive impacts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-35
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Review For the Sociology of Sport
Issue number1
Early online date2 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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This document is the author’s post-print version, incorporating any revisions agreed during the peer-review process. Some differences between the published version and this version may remain and you are advised to consult the published version if you wish to cite from it.


The research was supported by The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland Research Incentive Grant [Grant Number RIG007745].


  • discourse
  • framing
  • legacy
  • mega-events
  • Rio 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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