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The London Olympic Games and Paralympics Act 2006 has established the broad legislative parameters and powers 'necessary to stage a modern Games to the satisfaction of the International Olympic Committee'. (James, M. & Osborn, G. 2009) While the 2006 act addresses issues such as planning and transport, ticket sales and trade, and the use of the Olympic symbol, a diverse sports law literature informs a rich view of the Olympics. Themes in the wider literature include discrimination and human rights, sports law and the human body, safety, doping control, disputes and arbitration, and the institutions and instruments of international sports law and governance themselves.

Law, and legal research examine social and policy contexts as well as legislative sources, international agreements and the decisions of courts, and legal writing draws on interdisciplinary as well as more internal legal knowledge and methods. This is as true, if not more so, for the complex social and legal dynamics in sport and the staging of Olympic games, as for legal treatment of other subjects.

In law, sport is often contextualised as a particular branch of the entertainment industry, a branch that was estimated in 1999 to be worth more than 3% of world trade. Writing often focuses on relationships between the actors, agents, consumers, stage managers, producers, sponsors, and governors of the sporting spectacle. Compounded by the increasing commercialisation of sport, even in the traditionally amateur arena of the Olympics, a number of other characteristics contribute to the location of law's involvement with sport.

While sport has the potential to be a cohesive social force, it can also be divisive. Violence occurs on as well as off the field, cultural and commercial pressures to achieve can result in rule breaking and shame, and disputes arise over judging and game rules, as well as over commercial aspects of sport. Another characteristic is the proliferation of internal rules and ethics, amongst the normative standards regulating play, judging and sports administration, within both local and international sporting associations and governing bodies.

Some themes in legal writing focus on whether self governance is adequate in today's sporting environment, and on the relationship between legal and internal regulation.

A new article written by Professor Guy Osborn and Dr Mark James (see 'Research articles', right) explores the regulation of the 'sports fan' with regard to access of the 2012 Olympics.

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Research articles

The links below are to Adobe PDF files. Accessibility solutions and free Reader software are available from Adobe.

Consuming the Olympics: the fan, the rights holder and the law (PDF 107KB) PDF file

Related external resources

The London Olympic Games and Paralympics Act 2006 (PDF 281KB) PDF file

The Act as available via the Office of Public Sector Information


Professor Guy Osborn's blog on Law and Popular Culture

Social sciences at the British Library

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