Click here to skip to content > Sport & society home > Politics & Protest > Anti-Olympics protests

Anti-Olympics protests

The Olympic and Paralympic Games are eagerly awaited by people around the world: the chance to see elite athletes performing at their best, and the spectacle of the ceremonies themselves has huge appeal. However, there have often been protests against the modern Games in many of the host cities, generated by both local and international pressure groups. Aided by the Internet, and fuelled by the global recession, ideas about the ethics of mega events have gained increased currency.

A distinction is made on these pages between political protests such as the terrorist attack on the Israeli Olympic team in 1972 and the Black Power protest in Mexico 1968 – both of which used the Games as a platform for external causes - and opposition to the concept of the Games themselves.

One of the principal planks in the anti-Olympics platform derives from the anti-globalisation movement, which sees the corporate nature of the Games – in the form of the IOC and its global sponsors - as elitist and fundamentally flawed. Opposition to the Games ethos has also been manifested by host city pressure groups, including environmentalists, human rights activists and anti-poverty coalitions. Some of the websites of such groups in Australia and the United Kingdom have been archived by web archiving projects in Australia (Pandora) and Great Britain (UKWAC). A selection of sites are listed below:

From the Pandora archive

Anti-Olympics alliance

People Ingeniously Subverting the Sydney Olympics farce



From the UKWAC archive

2012 watchdog

Games Monitor


No Team GB

Elsewhere on the Web

No Games Chicago

International network against the Games and commercial sports

In Academia

A number of Olympic scholars, such as Helen Lenskyj, question the assumptions behind the official Olympic discourse, and other researchers comment on the ethics of the contracts signed between the IOC and the host cities, especially with regard to the legal stipulations involved in the holding of an Olympic Games, and the rights of its sponsors. The bibliography below lists some of the key resources, while our contributor Jennifer Jones, a Ph.D researcher at the University of the West of Scotland argues her point of view (see research articles opposite).


Giulianotti, R ‘Human rights, globalization and sentimental education: the case of sport’ in Sport in society 7, (3) 355-69
London reference collections shelfmark: ZC.9.a.7405
Lending collections shelfmark: 8419.655000

Lenskyj, Helen Inside the Olympic industry: power, politics, and activism
Albany: State University of New York Press, c2000.
London reference collections shelfmark: YC.2002.a.7675
Lending collections shelfmark: m00/37494

Lenskyj, Helen Olympic industry resistance: challenging Olympic power and propaganda
Albany: State University of New York Press, c2008.
London reference collections shelfmark: YK.2009.a.21648
Lending collections shelfmark: m08/.26382

Warmsley, K ‘Laying Olympism to rest’ in ‘Post-Olympism?: questioning sport in the twenty-first century edited by by John Bale & Mette Krogh Christensen
Oxford: Berg, 2004..
London reference collections shelfmark: YC.2009.a.8822
Lending collections shelfmark: m06/.14108

Shaw, Christopher A. Five ring circus: myths and realities of the Olympic Games
Philadelphia, Pa.: New Society, c2008.
London reference collections shelfmark: YK.2009.a.1132
Lending collections shelfmark: m08/.25042

Hoberman, John M. The Olympic crisis: sport, politics and the moral order
New Rochele, N.Y.: A.D. Caratzas, 1986.
London reference collections shelfmark: YA.1990.b.5638
Lending collections shelfmark: 86/22836

Olympic Games, mega-events and civil societies: globalization, environment, resistance edited by Graeme Hayes & John Karamichas
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
Lending collections shelfmark: m12/.10082


Help us to provide a research legacy for the London Olympics

Find out more

Research articles

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

Occupying the Olympic Games: resisting London 2012(PDF 74KB) PDF file

Social sciences at the British Library

Find out more