“From as early as 1932, local social movements have protested against the Olympic Games taking over their cities. In recent years, this has become the norm, with protest in host cities a regular feature of the Games. Naturally, this activism focuses on the specific impacts and issues associated with each event, from human rights at Beijing 2008, environmental damage at Vancouver 2010, gentrification at London 2012, and corruption at Sochi 2014, to police violence and evictions at Rio 2016, to name but a few points of contention.
“Occurring in a different city every two years, the context of these protests differs wildly, limiting the opportunities to build an international coalition and learn from each event. However, despite the challenges, a nascent movement against the Olympics is growing. In this article, I will draw on interviews conducted with several key figures in the coalition which contested the impacts of mega-events in Rio de Janeiro to illustrate some key lessons that may be of use for activists in future host cities. They were asked what advice they’d give and the common themes of their responses are described below.”