A comprehensive volume, unique in the field of Olympic and Paralympic studies


Björn Sandahl
Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Stockholm


Dikaia Chatziefstathiou, Borja García & Benoit Séguin (eds.)
Routledge Handbook of the Olympic and Paralympic Games
470 pages, paperback, ill
Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge 2022 (Rourledge Intrnational Handbooks)
ISBN 978-0-367-52261-2

The Routledge Handbooks are probably a familiar sight for most academics. They are usually identified by their brick size appearance and black and red signature covers. By now a great number of handbooks have been published, covering fields from anthropology to life sciences. These handbooks usually gather scholars in their respective field who contribute to a themed volume in a particular field. And now the time has come for the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be the subject of a new handbook publication from Routledge.

I initially want to make clear that this is not a traditional review. The reason for this is simple. There is just no way one can write a review that covers the extensive contents of this volume. Over almost five hundred very densely printed pages it contains a total of no less than 37 themed articles (see the Table of Content below). Thus, I shall restrict myself to a brief presentation of the comments and a few principal remarks about the handbook’s structure.

The volume is divided into four main parts. The first part focuses on issues related to the athletes themselves with articles focusing on athletes’ rights and athletes with disabilities and HBTQ-athletes, but also on the question of nationality in the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The second part focuses on the Games as a business. Here we find several articles focusing on sponsorship, marketing, and the broadcasting rights during the games. In part three, the focus is directed towards the topic of governance with various articles that cover the evolution of governance in both the Olympic and Paralympic movements, as well as articles on autonomy, National Olympic Committees, international sports federations and WADA and governance of anti-doping. Finally, the volume’s fourth part revolves around socio-cultural and political issues. This part is also somewhat more sprawling than the others, not only focusing on obvious themes such as social development and human rights, but also on health, arts and culture, and the Olympic educational programmes.

The module-based structure also means that the handbook is easy to update, and it will likewise be possible to add new chapters, and thereby increasing its longevity.

This brief survey of the contents reveals not only the plight of the reviewer but also brings to light the broad approach of the handbook and the numerous subjects covered. It should be noted though, that the perspective for the most part is contemporary and that while certain chapters follow a historic chain of events regarding the subject of that particular article, the handbook contains no common historical framework of the development of the Olympic movement. Those pursuing knowledge of the history of the Olympic movement need to look elsewhere.

This also raises the question of the consequences of the chosen structure of the handbook. The handbook aims to have an interdisciplinary focus and chooses the article structure with several authors over a joint narrative. This is of course the current trend due to the publishing terms in an international journal based scientific community. It is also one of the handbooks strengths. By choosing this path the reader is introduced to a broad field of subjects contributed by respected scholars in the field. The module-based structure also means that the handbook is easy to update, and it will likewise be possible to add new chapters, and thereby increasing its longevity. I would not be surprised if we during the upcoming years will see several new editions as the Olympic and Paralympic movement continues to evolve.

Germany vs Japan in Tokyo Paralympic Games 2020. Mareike Miller (GER) and Mayumi Tsuchida (JPN) .(Shutterstock/Marco Ciccolella)

There are caveats with this approach though, which becomes obvious while reading the handbook from front to back. Being in practice an anthology, the narrative is challenged by the conditions set by the chosen structure. With 37 articles by different scholars, every chapter is in effect an island of its own with its own character and structure. This also means that there is limited spill-over between different texts. I had, for instance, looked forward to find a summarizing chapter for each of the four parts mentioned above, where the different contributions would be analysed and where general conclusions would be presented about, for instance the Olympic movement as a business. Such chapters are sadly not included in the handbook.

So, who should feel compelled to read The Routledge Handbook of the Olympic and Paralympic Games? Well, the broad approach means there is something for everybody here. There is no question that the handbook serves as a rich introduction to the field of Olympic and Paralympic studies and thus should be of great interest to students or the interested general public wanting to indulge in a particular query or in the field as a whole. I shall not be surprised if the handbook becomes the preferred choice as course literature at college level academic studies. I, at least, have not found any other examples of such a comprehensive volume focusing on this subject.

Copyright © Björn Sandahl 2024

Table of Content

Part I: Athletes’ Issues in Olympic and Paralympic Games
Edited by Dikaia Chatziefstathiou

      1. Dual Career: Balancing success in sport and life
        Lucinda Howland, Achilleas Papadimitriou, Vasilis Minoudis and Philip Hurst
      2. Athletes and CAS: Protecting athletes’ rights
        Gregory Ioannidis
      3. Disability, Classification and the Paralympics: Inclusion and exclusion of elite athletes with disabilities
        Jan Burns
      4. Women: Rules and classifications in the Olympics and Paralympics
        Kath Woodward
      5. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Athletes in the Olympic and Paralympic Games: Human rights, unfair advantage and exclusion
        Caroline Symons and Ryan Storr
      6. Sport and Nationality at the Olympic and Paralympic Games: Flags of convenience?
        Steve Greenfield and Guy Osborn

Part II: Olympic and Paralympic Business
Edited by Benoit Seguin

      1. Olympic Values: Sponsorship, values and integrity in sport creating a paradigm shift
        Richard W. Pound
      2. Paralympic Brand Governance: The best of both worlds?
        Simon Gérard
      3. Sponsoring the Paralympic Games and Breaking Barriers
        David Legg
      4. Olympic Broadcast Rights
        Lisa Delpy Neirotti
      5. Activation of Olympic and Paralympic Sponsorship
        Stéphan Fuchs and Guillaume Bodet
      6. Legal Aspects of the Olympics and Ambush Marketing
        John Grady
      7. The Evolving #Rule40 of the Olympic Charter: Balancing the interest of sponsors vs athletes
        Gashaw Abeza
      8. Towards a Shared Olympic Responsibility: Paradoxes and Challenges
        Aurélien François, Alain Ferrand and Emmanuel Bayle
      9. Esports in the Olympic and Paralympic Games: The business case for integration
        Andy Miah and Alex Fenton
      10. Organizing the Olympic Games
        Milena M. Parent
      11. Referendums at Olympic Games
        Holger Preuß, Anja Scheu and Maike Weitzmann

Part III: The Governance of the Olympic and Paralympic Games
Edited by Borja García

      1. The Composition of the IOC: Origins and key turning points in the governance of the Olympic movement
        Jörg Krieger and Stephan Wassong
      2. Changing Parasport Landscape and The Evolution of the International Paralympic Committee Governance
        Laura Misener and Landy Di Lu
      3. Organisational Change Campaigns of the Olympic Movement: Insights from structural and cultural adaptations
        Eleni Theodoraki
      4. Sleeping with an Elephant: The relationship between the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee
        David Howe
      5. The Autonomy of the Olympic and Sport Movement
        Arnout Geeraert
      6. Political Autonomy and Control of National Olympic Committees
        Henk Erik Meier
      7. The Changing Attitude of the IOC and the IPC Towards WADA and the Governance of Anti-Doping
        Stacie Gray
      8. Board Renewal and Good Governance in the Olympic Movement
        Leigh Robinson and Tracy Taylor
      9. The Relationship Between the IOC and International Sport Federations
        Jinsu Byun and Becca Leopkey
      10. The Governance of the Court of Arbitration for Sport
        Jean-Loup Chappelet

Part IV: Socio-cultural and Political Issues of the Olympic and Paralympic Games
Edited by Dikaia Chatziefstathiou

      1. Theory and Research in Scholarship around the Paralympic Games
        Ian Brittain
      2. Olympic and Paralympic Games and Human Rights
        Bruce Kidd
      3. Sport for Development and Peace: Convergence and divergence with the Olympic movement
        Simon Darnell and Rob Millington
      4. Home Advantage in the Olympic and Paralympic Games
        Girish Ramchandani, Darryl Wilson and Chris Gratton
      5. Debating the Future of Olympic and Paralympic Legacy
        Vassil Girginov
      6. Can Health-Related Legacies through Physical Activity and Sport be Delivered by the Olympic and Paralympic Games?
        Mike Weed
      7. Olympic and Paralympic Impacts in Non-Host City Regions
        Shushu Chen and Dongfeng Liu
      8. Legacies Beyond the Olympic Games: The case of two Youth Olympic Games
        Ran Zhou and Kyriaki Kaplanidou
      9. Arts and Culture in the Olympic and Paralympic Games
        Beatriz Garcia
      10. Olympic and Paralympic Games Education Programmes: Education as engagement from a practitioner’s view
        Nick Fuller and Heather Barr
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