Mega Events, Fear, and Risk: Terrorism at the Olympic Games

in Journal of Sport Management

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Kristine TooheyGriffith University

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Tracy TaylorUniversity of Technology, Sydney

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Since 1972, there has been an association between terrorism, violence, and the Olympic Games. The events of September 11, 2001, however, clearly reescalated concerns about the Games being a terrorist target. This conceptual article discusses the theories of the risk society and the precautionary principle to understand and interpret how visitors to the most recent Summer Games, Athens 2004, framed their decision to attend. Consistent with risk theory, a strong public and financial commitment to safety at the Games was evident, with the organizers undertaking wide-ranging large-scale risk management initiatives. Athens attendees, while displaying tenets of risk aversion and engagement with a discourse of fear, also showed resilience, resistance, and indifference to potential terrorism threats. Implications for both theory and practice are noted.

Toohey is with the Department of Tourism, Leisure, Hotel and Sport Management, Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Gold Coast 4222, Australia. Taylor is with the Faculty of Business, University of Technology, Sydney, Lindfield NSW 2070, Australia.

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