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Sport mega-event organizing committees have three uniquely challenging characteristics: They grow rapidly; they are temporary; they are accountable for event symbolisms. Effects of these characteristics are examined via participant observation and in-depth interviews with twelve lower-level employees of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) two years before the Beijing Olympics. Four themes about their working lives were identified: The daily work is mundane; BOCOG is bureaucratic; privilege has its privileges; my immediate working environment nurtures me. The mega-event context was also important; workers described it using: The Olympics are great and grand; the Olympics are valuable for China; the Olympics illustrate the challenges that China faces in the 21st century; BOCOG is uniquely high profile; BOCOG helps us to understand Chinese society. Employees used four themes to describe the coping strategies they applied to manage the challenges of working for the organizing committee: I have to confront or adjust; my work at BOCOG allows me to develop myself; working at BOCOG represents a passionate life with idealism; I get to be part of history. Findings suggest that social support, the symbolic significance of the event, and learning through event work mitigate the stresses of working to host a mega-event. Future work should examine the workers’ lives longitudinally over the lifespan of an organizing committee to delineate the dynamics of meanings and experiences in mega-event work.
Xing is with the School of Sports Administration, Faculty of Management, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada P3E 2C6. Chalip is with the Sport Management Program, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712.