We are now over halfway through the 2016 Rio Games and the world is well and truly gripped by Olympic-fever. And with the Paralympics on the horizon, the public’s intense fascination with high-profile sports is unlikely to diminish anytime soon.

The Olympics are, of course, much more than just a grand display of sporting prowess. Ever since their revival in the late 19th century, they have often been a force for good, providing a platform for challenging stereotypes, promoting social justice, and building international friendships. However, the Games rarely come without controversy. The 2016 Rio Olympics have already been fraught with challenges: anti-Olympics protests over costs, mistreatment of the local population, and substantial security concerns were reported in the run-up to the event. While Brazil is already struggling through a government impeachment trial and the worst recession in decades, large-scale doping and corruption allegations have also overshadowed the opening of this year’s Games. Despite their de-facto apolitical nature, the Olympics are closely intertwined with the social and political processes of their time and not only reflect, but often amplify, current conflicts.

At the height of the Cold War, for instance, the Olympic Games provided the duelling USA and USSR with a new arena in which they could stage their ideological battle. Just a couple of weeks ago, a group of Brazilian teachers, in protest of delayed wage payments, managed to briefly extinguish the Olympic flame while it was en route to Rio – only the latest example in a long tradition of anti-Olympic activism. One argument which may be as old as the modern Olympics themselves is the question of their profitability. While proponents argue that high-profile sporting events like the Olympics provide a long-term boost to the economy, critics counter that the huge upfront costs often result in policy and planning decisions which are ultimately to the detriment of the local population. Whichever side of the argument you find yourself on, we have put together a selection of new and bestselling books that address these and related issues of the Games.

Olympic Collision Circus Maximus

The Olympics and the Cold War, 1949-1968
Sport as Battleground in the U.S.-Soviet Rivalry
Erin Redihan
Nov 2016 277pp
9781476667881 Paperback
For Olympic athletes, fans, and media alike, the Games often bring out the best that sport has to offer: unity, nationalism, and friendly competition. However, wherever international competition occurs, politics are never far from the front lines. Perhaps this was never truer than during the early Cold War. Based on IOC, US government, and contemporary media sources, this book looks at six consecutive Olympiads to show just how high the stakes became once the Soviets began competing - and threatening America's traditional athletic supremacy - in 1952.


Olympic Collision
The Story of Mary Decker and Zola Budd
Kyle Keiderling
Nov 2016 368pp, 14 photos
9780803290846 Hardback

At the 1984 summer games in Los Angeles, a raucous crowd saw their favourite in the women’s 3,000-metre race, Mary Decker, go down. An audience of two billion around the world witnessed the mishap and listened to the instantaneous accusations against the suspected culprit, Zola Budd. Telling the story behind the controversy; the account that emerges is certain to revise the view people have held since that fateful day in Los Angeles more than thirty years ago.
University of Nebraska Press
Please note, this title is available from Eurospan in Asia-Pacific only.

New Edition of a Bestseller
Circus Maximus
The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup, Second Edition, Updated & Expanded
Andrew Zimbalist
February 2016 224pp
9780815727248 Paperback
Looks beyond the headlines of two of the world’s most beloved sporting events: The Olympics and the Football World Cup. Andrew Zimbalist tackles the bogus claim that the cities chosen to host these high-profile sporting events experience an economic windfall. In this expanded and updated edition of his bestselling book, he now takes aim at the outrageous FIFA scandal, Boston’s bid for the 2024 summer Olympics, and the criticism surrounding the 2015 Women's World Cup.
Brookings Institution Press

Jamaican Gold Owning Olympics


Jamaican Gold
Jamaican Sprinters
Edited by Rachael Irving & Vilma Charlton
2010 160pp, photos & illustrations
9789766402341 Paperback
What is the ‘gold’ that is mined so consistently by Jamaican sprinters, that permits this little country to claim a place among the top five countries, measured in terms of medals per capita of population, in almost every Olympics since World War II? Can science explain it? Does the touchy area of genetics explain it? These questions are discussed by fourteen specialists from a range of disciplines, each with an insight, a piece of the puzzle.
The University of the West Indies Press

Olympic Dreams
The Impact of Mega-Events on Local Politics
Matthew J. Burbank, Gregory D. Andranovich & Charles H. Heying
2001 200pp, maps
9781555879914 Paperback
Explorations in Public Policy
What drives cities to pursue large-scale, high-profile events like the Olympic games? What are the consequences for citizens and local governments? Investigating local politics in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City as they vied for the role of Olympic host, this book provides a compelling narrative of the evolving political economy of modern mega events.
Lynne Rienner Publishers

Owning the Olympics
Narratives of the New China
Edited by Monroe E. Price & Daniel Dayan
2008 456pp
9780472050321 Paperback
Written in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, this books brings together a distinguished group of scholars from architecture, Chinese studies, human rights, sports studies, information policy and media studies, law, and political science. They offer an accessible and sophisticated framework to understand the struggles by which multiple organising entities sought to influence and control the narratives through which the Beijing Games would be understood.
University of Michigan Press

Racism Olympics Sarajevo Olympics Diplomatic Games Activism Olympics

Racism and the Olympics

Robert G. Weisbord
2015 228pp
9781412856683 Hardback
Globally, billions of fans feverishly focus on the summer and winter Olympics. In theory, international fraternalism is boosted by these “friendly competitions”, but often national rivalries eclipse amity. How the Olympics deals with racism offers a window to better understanding these dynamics. Racism and the Olympics covers topics and events that portray discrimination within the Olympic and considers the role of international politics and criteria used to determine nations selected to take part in and serve as venues for the Olympic Games.
Transaction Publishers

The Sarajevo Olympics
A History of the 1984 Winter Games
Jason Vuic
2015 232pp, 22 illustrations
9781625341655 Paperback
The first Winter Games held in a communist country, the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo marked the first Olympic confrontation of Soviet and American athletes since the US boycott of the 1980 Moscow Summer Games. This book is more than just a history of sport. It retraces the history of the Olympic movement, analyses the inner workings of the International Olympic Committee during the 1970s and 1980s, and places the 1984 games in the context of Cold War geopolitics.
University of Massachusetts Press

Diplomatic Games
Sport, Statecraft, and International Relations since 1945
Edited by Heather L. Dichter & Andrew L. Johns
2014 406pp, 6 photos
9780813145648 Hardback
Studies in Conflict, Diplomacy and Peace
A team of scholars examines how the nexus of sport and foreign relations has driven political and cultural change since 1945, demonstrating how governments have used athletic competition to maintain and strengthen alliances, promote policies, and increase national prestige.
The University Press of Kentucky

Activism and the Olympics
Dissent at the Games in Vancouver and London
Jules Boykoff
2014 216pp, 10 photos
9780813562018 Paperback
Critical Issues in Sport and Society
Provides a critical overview of the Olympic industry and its political opponents in the modern era. After presenting a brief history of Olympic activism, Boykoff turns his attention to on-the-ground activism through the lens of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Draws on primary evidence from myriad personal interviews with activists, journalists, civil libertarians and Olympics organisers.
Rutgers University Press