Understanding the Olympics: 2nd Edition (Hardback) book cover

Understanding the Olympics

2nd Edition

By John Horne, Garry Whannel


326 pages | 97 B/W Illus.

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The Olympic Games is unquestionably the greatest sporting event in the world, with billions of viewers across the globe. How did the Olympics evolve into this multi-national phenomenon? How can the Olympics help us to understand the relationship between sport and society? What will be the impact and legacy of the 2016 Olympics in Rio? Now in a fully revised and updated new edition that places Rio 2016 in the foreground, Understanding the Olympics answers all these questions by exploring the social, cultural, political, historical and economic context of the Games.

This book presents the latest research on the Olympics, including new material on legacy, sustainability and corruption, and introduces the reader to all of the key themes of contemporary Olympic Studies including:

  • the history of the Olympics
  • Olympic politics
  • access and equity
  • the Olympics and the media
  • festival and spectacle
  • the Olympic economy
  • urban development
  • Olympic futures.

The most up-to-date and authoritative introduction to the Olympic Games, this book contains a full Olympic history timeline as well as illustrations, information boxes and ‘Olympic Stories’ in every chapter. Understanding the Olympics is essential reading for anybody with an interest in the Olympics or the wider relationship between sport and society.


"This book is truly an appealing and useful introduction to the Games. This edition contains updated facts, statistics, research, and anecdotal evidence from the authors, who are well versed in Olympic sport. These pieces support this book as a useful tool in comprehending the complexity of the Olympic Games. This work is recommended for any individual interested in or learning more about the Games. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; faculty and general readers." - M. E. Beagle, CHOICE

Table of Contents

Part 1: The Olympics and its Social and Political Contexts 1. Breaking New Ground: Rio 2. Investments and Legacy: London 3. Governance: The IOC and the Bidding Process 4. The Money: TV and Commercialization 5. Urban Development and City Branding Part 2: Historical Contexts 6. Reviving the Olympics: From the Ancients to 1896 7. From Worlds Fairs to Mega-Events 8. The Internationalist Spirit and National Contestation 9. Politics and the Olympics 10. Festival, spectacle, Carnival and Consumption Part 3: Challenges in the Future 11. Level Playing Fields 12. Olympism and the ‘Dark Side of Sport’

About the Authors

John Horne is Professor of Sport and Sociology at the University of Central Lancashire, UK

Garry Whannel is Professor of Media Cultures at the University of Bedfordshire, UK

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SPORTS & RECREATION / Sociology of Sports
SPORTS & RECREATION / Business Aspects