We are inviting proposals for oral presentations at the workshop “Arab countries and the Olympic Games” on June 25/26 2016, organized by the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, in cooperation with Professor Danyel Reiche from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. Taking place just before the 2016 Summer Olympic Games that run from August 5, 2016, to August 21, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, the workshop aims to provide information and analysis on the state of sport in the Arab World through the multidisciplinary lenses of political science, history, economics, business, and law, among others. Presentations can be case studies on the sport policies of specific countries, or focus on overall issues relevant to sport in the Arab World such as sports diplomacy, nation-building, hosting mega sporting events, and gender studies.
Many Middle Eastern and North African countries are latecomers to international sports. Qatar, for example, sent its first Olympic team to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Others such as Lebanon and Syria have a longer history at the Games, starting to compete in 1948 at the London Summer Olympics. However, while those two states have consistently participated, they have achieved only minor success.
One unique characteristic of Arab countries is the lack of support for women in sport. Saudi Arabia and Qatar sent women to the Olympics for the first time in 2012 at the London Games.
Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi also use sport as an instrument to gain soft power. Qatar, for example, has been successful in bidding for major sporting events, with the FIFA World Cup 2022 as its most remarkable achievement so far. Qatar also aims to host the Olympic Summer Games in the future, after unsuccessfully bidding for the 2016 and 2020 Games.
To win medals at the Olympics and at its regional edition, the Asian Games, Qatar and Bahrain have adopted the strategy of naturalizing foreign athletes, an approach highly controversial and criticized in the international media.
While the oil-rich Gulf countries want to become sport powerhouses, other countries are more concerned about participation. Palestine is still struggling for international recognition, but the International Olympic Committee recognized it in 1995, and Palestine has participated in the Summer Olympics since the Atlanta Games in 1996. The country has never won an Olympic medal, but its principle goal is raising its flag in the opening and closing ceremonies as a sign of statehood.
For selected presenters, lodging and meals are provided, but participants themselves must cover airfare. The workshop will last 24 hours from Friday, June 24, 12:00pm to Saturday, June 25, 12:00pm in Rolling Ridge Retreat and Conference Center (halfway between Manchester, NH airport and Logan Airport in Boston. Commuter trains from Boston stop in Andover, just minutes away from Rolling Ridge). Attendance is expected for the entire 24-hour workshop. The workshop will not be open to the public, but we will write a summarizing report of the workshop that will be published on the Fares Center website, and distributed to media outlets.
Proposals should be not longer than 400 words, and structured in the following manner: Research question, literature review, methodology, and a minimum of three but not more than six references, using the Chicago reference style. Please send your abstracts to Dr. Danyel Reiche, firstname.lastname@example.org not later than January 15, 2016. Selected Presenters will be informed in February 2016.