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SSCN / RESEARCH  / EDUCATION  / 001 Olympism In Action – Darnell 2012

001 Olympism In Action – Darnell 2012

What is it about? (Aim/objectives)

International development associated with the 2016 Rio Olympic Games legacy did not deliver on grassroots sport-for-development, as ‘hard development’ is preferred to ‘soft development’.

Where is it from? (Context/location)

An Canadian author but the context is Brazil, South America (a development economy in the Global South)

Who are involved? (Research participants)

Review of publications – 201 articles and reports obtained from the media and DJF database

What are the readings and main concepts?


  • The broader development agenda promoted by the Olympic Movement linked to Rio 2016.
  • Messages by commercial media after announcement of Rio as host city.
    Delivering on IOC’s Olympism in Action relating to ‘softer’/people-centred development agenda linked to Sport for Development and Peace (SDP).

Brazil, development and sport:

  • Brazil as third world country and part of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) group
  • Can developing countries afford to host mega events like Commonwealth Games, the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games?
  • IOC and host countries are committed to IOC agenda for development  Olympism in Action.
  • What development is for the public good?
    o Social and economic benefits – what is the net loss and gains for the public account?
    o Mega-events is more than athletic performance and elite sport.
    o NGOs have a key role to play to deliver on a broader development agenda.
    o Policy development alone is not enough – it is about the delivery on political (and IOC) promises, whilst also listening to the ‘voices from below’ (NGOs)
What are the main findings? (Results)

The IOC, United Nations and International Development – addressing the components of Olympism in Action:

  • Development through sport (IOC website) – building a better world through development programmes.
  • Act on UN-IOC Forum: The importance of partnerships (including NGOs and academics)
  • Act on 19 recommendations ‘on how to maximise the impact of various activities in the field of
    development through sport’ (p. 876). Examples of recommendations:
    o #2 – IOC to leverage its relationship with the UN to build better relationships with government
    authorities and deliver on achieving the (Sustainable) Development Goals.
    o #3 – Maximise the contribution to development ‘beyond the competitive character of sport’.
    o #7 – Link to development issues such as combating the spread of HIV/AIDS.
    o #12 – Speak the role that sort can play ion achieving gender equality.
    o #15 – Assert the role of sport in creating a climate for peace.
What are the main lessons? (Discussion/Reflections/Learnings)
  • Official government projects did not deliver on broad social development in Brazil.
  • Olympism in Action (and SDP) is a framework for sport-focused, civil society-led development initiatives but need to deliver sustainable change beyond the promises of political actors on ‘hard development’ outcomes (e.g. infrastructure development).
  • See ‘development as growth’ to be promoted on commercial, media and political platforms.
  • Reshape Olympism (philosophy of life and life skill framework) for/by local communities.
Is it useful? (Chat room, knowledge sharing)

What role can the SSCN and NGOs play in claiming a stake in legacy programmes?
What were the benefits of a mega – or national sport event for communities and NGOs?

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