In this seminar, Elena Trubina problematizes the attempts of international sports bodies like the IOC and FIFA to prompt emerging economies to compete for hosting global sporting events. Her intervention in the debates on mega-events in non-Western countries, which to date have focused primarily on events held in South America, highlights the lack of theoretical engagement with the links between neoliberal sports industries and neoauthoritarian regimes. She demonstrates that while the allocation of mega-events has shifted decisively towards authoritarian countries (from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Qatar’s 2022 World Cup), discourses surrounding the Olympics–and sports more generally–operate as a tool to lend legitimacy to the involvement of external, international political and economic actors in the Games’ implementation, as well as to the pursuit of the economic interests of particular alliances associated with the federal and regional governments. Trubina examines how the Games’ instrumentalization by international and national self-seeking bureaucratic elites coexists with a prevailing justification for the events, namely, that they market host cities and countries to a global audience, facilitate their development and integrate them into global society. She describes the loyalties and allegiances of the agents involved in the 2014 Sochi Games. Based on my research interviews, international and national stakeholders worked together to capitalize on the Games.
This talk highlights the emerging global configurations of event organizers (the IOC, the Sochi -2014 Organizing Committee, the Russian Olympic Committee) and professionals who, as part of their multiscalar efforts to legitimize the situation, systematically ignore local interests.
Elena Trubina is a philosopher and cultural anthropologist at the Institute of Social and Political Studies, Ural Federal University in Ekaterinburg. Currently she is a Alexander Herzen Visiting Fellow at the IWM.