The Olympics as a platform for protest: A case study of the London 2012 'ethical' Games and the Play Fair campaign for workers' rights

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Olympic Games, with its distinctive ethos and reach, offers a valuable opportunity for those able to mobilise it as a platform for their own purposes. This paper focuses on how global social justice groups are pursuing this goal. It is argued that the types of protest utilising the Olympic platform change over time and reflect distinct historical phases of the Games. Contemporary anti-Olympic and Olympic watchdog campaigns are characterised by contestation over the prioritising of corporate interests, so contribute to wider critiques of globalising capitalism. The Play Fair campaign for the rights of workers making official Olympic merchandise and supplies exemplifies this, as it mobilises the Olympic platform to question and influence working practices within transnational supply chains. A case study of the campaign is presented, drawing on documentary analysis, interviews and participant observations undertaken since the launch of PlayFair 2012 in February 2010. It was found that by targeting London 2012 corporate discourses of 'ethics' and 'sustainability' in its campaign to ensure a 'sweat free' Olympics, Play Fair connects the production of major sporting events to wider issues of global inequality, poverty and structural problems in transnational labour markets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-372
Number of pages18
JournalLeisure Studies
Volume31
Issue number3
Early online date25 Apr 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Olympic Games
protest
campaign
worker
major event
structural problem
participant observation
social justice
capitalist society
labor market
moral philosophy
sustainability
poverty
supply
capitalism
rights
Workers' rights
Protest
Olympics
ethics

Keywords

  • globalisation
  • legacies
  • Olympic Games
  • PlayFair 2012
  • social movements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

Cite this

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