Heroes at Home, Suspects Abroad? National and International Perceptions of Elite-Sports Success

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It is often claimed that elite sport success increases national pride as well as the international prestige of a country. To scrutinize this broad-shed assumption, we draw on data from an online survey carried out around the Rio 2016 Olympics, including questions on success, national identity and attitudes towards other countries and athletes. Exploratory analyses of open questions reveal that successful athletes celebrated at home are often ignored abroad. A country’s international image is rather shaped by negative perceptions regarding doping or unfairness. Statistical analyses of standardized questions support previous findings on the reception of sport events, such as the strong connection of national pride and desire for elite sport success. However, there is also strong indication for shared international standards of sportsmanship.

Haut is with the Department of Sports Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Gassmann and Emrich are with the Department of Sports Sciences, Saarland University, Germany. Meyer and Pierdzioch are with the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg, Germany.

Address author correspondence to Jan Haut at haut@sport.uni-frankfurt.de.
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