Posted by: olymponomics | April 21, 2012

Reputational risk, politics and mega-events

Growing unease about events in Bahrain have demonstrated the potential for severe reputational damage to events and sports arising from the political misjudgements of administrators concerned with the pursuit of commercial revenues and penetrating new markets. Increasingly, mega-event organizers must operate in the context of globalised media and civil society (not least due to the transnational reach of many of their corporate partners), in which the social and environmental records of host nations or host cities can come under close scrutiny, and through which the legitimacy and reputation of governing authorities can be badly tainted. In some senses, these sorts of questions are simply a reprise of the traditional intersection of politics with international sport — most prominent in the Olympic context through an extended period in which politics dominated, such as the boycott of the Montreal 1976 Olympics by African nations over the IOC’s decision to allow New Zealand to participate despite its sporting links to apartheid-era South Africa, and the Cold War boycotts of Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984. What is arguably different about the politicisation of mega-events today is that the asset of reputation is of far greater worth to sporting events, governing authorities and  stakeholders, and the spread of information is much faster through the internet and social media, whereas in the past it was easier and less financially costly for organisers to wait it out until controversies blew over.

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