The geopolitics of global aspiration: Sport mega-events and emerging powers

Cornelissen S. (2010)


What is the significance of the fact that several recent or upcoming sport mega-events are hosted by emerging powers such as China (the 2008 Beijing Games), India (2010 Commonwealth Games), South Africa (2010 FIFA World Cup), Russia (2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi) or Brazil (2014 FIFA World Cup)? This paper analyses events hosted by three states of the emerging power (or so-called BRICSA) axis. These are the 2008 Olympics, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games. It suggests that the hosting of such events by today's emerging powers occurs through a common agenda: to showcase economic achievements, to signal diplomatic stature or to project, in the absence of other forms of international influence, soft power. Furthermore, emerging powers can reshape the way in which events are viewed, planned for and commercialized, and by which they impact upon stakeholders. In all, sport mega-events constitute a key part of the political imagineering of emerging powers, serving as a focal point both for the type of society and state these authorities try to create, as well as for the position in the international order these rulers attempt to craft. While this strategy has some success, it also tends to come at some material and symbolic costs for these states. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.

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