Inside the Olympic Industry

Power, Politics, and Activism

By Helen Jefferson Lenskyj
Foreword by Varda Burstyn

Subjects: Environmental Sociology
Series: SUNY series on Sport, Culture, and Social Relations
Paperback : 9780791447567, 238 pages, July 2000
Hardcover : 9780791447550, 238 pages, July 2000

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Table of contents

Foreword, Varda Burstyn


List of Abbreviations

List of Key Players


1. Salt Lake City: The Beginning

2. The Scandals Unfold: A Long History

3. Olympic Family Solidarity: Creative Connotations

4. Toronto and Sydney Olympic Bids: When Winners Are Losers

5. The Hidden Costs: Olympic Impacts and Urban Politics

6. Up Against the Olympic Industry: International Resistance

7. Resistance in Atlanta and Sydney: Bread, Not Circuses

8. Corporate Environmentalism: Olympic Shades of Green

9. The Mass Media and the Olympic Industry: Manufacturing Consent




Analysis from the perspective of those adversely affected by the social, economic, political, and environmental impacts of hosting an Olympic Games.


In a startling expose of the Olympic industry, Helen Jefferson Lenskyj goes beyond the media hype of international goodwill and spirited competition to uncover a darker side of the global Games. She reports on the pre- and post-Olympic impacts from recent host cities, bribery investigations and their outcomes, grassroots resistance movements, and the role of the mass media in the controversy. A highly accessible book about a complex subject that touches the hearts of sports fans everywhere, Inside the Olympic Industry is a must-read, behind-the-scenes look at the politics surrounding the choice of Sydney, Australia as host city for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.

Helen Jefferson Lenskyj is Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. She is the author of Women, Sport, and Physical Activity: Selected Research Themes and Out of Bounds: Women, Sport, and Sexuality.


"Clearly, this is a book of considerable relevance to contemporary culture in that the Olympics is the largest single regular global event … It offers a public airing of issues that many sports administrators and journalists prefer to ignore. [It] ought to be required reading for anyone living in a country that aspires to stage an Olympic Games. " — Leisure Studies

"This book is a useful addition to any sports history library. " — Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal

"Lenskyj's examination of the five-ring circus—an industry, not a movement, she insists, and certainly not a family—looks at the way romantic myths about sports and global unity have masked a mean, corporate and corrupt machine that has hopelessly skewed the priorities of countries hosting and bidding on the Olympics … Lenskyj's analysis is thorough, indispensable—and grim. " — NOW Magazine

"Recommended for serious scholars of the Olympic Games and also for those who examine social injustice. " — CHOICE

"Helen Jefferson Lenskyj … has carefully documented the sleazy reality behind the carefully groomed image of the 'Olympic movement' or the 'Olympic family' … Professor Lenskyj exposes the corruption, greed and arrogance at the heart of the Olympics industry … Professor Lenskyj documents in great detail the many harmful effects the Olympics have had on the host cities and countries. " — Exit

"…Inside the Olympic Industry is rich in detail. It draws on a wide variety of primary sources and offers the most comprehensive comparative analysis of Olympic politics yet undertaken … Inside the Olympic Industry is essential reading for those interested in the Olympic movement. Helen Lenskyj convincingly demonstrates the utter disregard many bidding and host cities show for the ideals that the IOC claims are its guiding tenets. The situation will not improve until the IOC demands that prospective hosts take cognizance of the view from 'the bottom of the food chain' (p. 139). " — Olympika

"Helen Lenskyj exposes the people who profit from manipulating sport's ideals—and provides valuable ammunition for researchers, activists and journalists seeking long overdue reform of the world's greatest festival of sport. " — Andrew Jennings, author of The New Lords of the Rings and The Great Olympic Swindle

"That the Games are an unalloyed good for host communities, a plum to be had for the most worthy and deserving, remained firmly in place in the public imagination and mass media. Inside the Olympic Industry changes all that. At last, in this powerful and compelling book, we have a resource that permits the citizens and political representatives of communities who contemplate bidding for, and mounting, a set of Games to understand the key issues that will face them if they enter the Olympic fray. Here, without hype, we have the reality, not the myth. " — from the Foreword by Varda Burstyn, author of The Rites of Men: Manhood, Politics, and the Culture of Sport