Disorganised Host Event Spaces: Revealing Rio’s Fault Lines at the 2016 Olympics (Leisure Studies – Duignan and McGillivray, 2019)

Paper published online in Leisure Studies: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02614367.2019.1633679?casa_token=6ZtdDb1bzQwAAAAA%3A_bblQebC_OYX0t-SolEP2Rr7n6Z9XkaMCvOtrjm7k8Z1Y9dxudHpCg4n_qbSdRibmMkxmDjJpA


We investigate the live staging spatial-organisational requirements of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, exploring the extent to which the project sequestrated, territorialised and commodified public space. Relatedly, we examine the role of new legal, regulatory and securitised event conditions in affording an effective and efficient ‘Olympic takeover’. We do this by drawing on i) official Rio 2016 planning documents, ii) observations of the live Olympic-city spatial effects, and iii) interviews with key informants. Findings reveal that Rio’s specially created Olympic event zones sought to transform visitor flows and circulations across the city, appropriating and regulating public space in-line with a desired tourist aesthetic. Rio’s public civic space became reimagined and controlled for commercial exploitation by Olympic sponsors, supporters and suppliers– facilitated by the creation of areas of exclusivity. And yet, we also reveal how the Rio Olympic city simultaneously emerged disorganised, open and fluid in places– a (temporary) break in the (neoliberal) economic logic we have come to expect. We argue that localised conditions affecting Rio afforded closer connectivity between event visitor economies and host communities. While these gains remain marginal and largely symbolic, they demonstrate that with effective planning, the Olympic host city need not only serve corporate interests.

KEYWORDS: Mega sport eventsUrban spacespatial territorialisationcommercial exploitationRio 2016 Olympic Gamesexceptional legislationvisitor economy

BBC Interview during Rio 2016 Olympics on some of the emerging themes of the research paper

Listen to the full interview here:


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