Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Latin American Studies (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

George Yudice

Second Committee Member

Steve Stein

Third Committee Member

William C. Smith


Today’s sporting mega-events are a globally recognized urban spectacle for their capacity to stimulate economic growth, revitalize urban cityscapes and promote their respective metropolis to a transnational audience. Yet in spite of the ubiquitous enthusiasm touted by Olympic stakeholders, there is a growing literature documenting the negative impacts that sporting mega-events have on the quality of life of host-city residents. In part one of this work, I explicate the “Olympic Planning Equation”: a three part analysis that links the negative ramifications experienced by host city citizens, to the ambitions of Olympic stakeholders and their execution of the event. Part two applies this equation to Rio de Janeiro’s current preparatory efforts for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Rio de Janeiro’s mega-event ambitions and its methodological implementation will be reviewed, followed by an in-depth look at specific instances of political, legal, economic, social, and spatial restructuring that are occurring to produce Rio’s Olympic city. This case study intends to show how the exigencies of mega-event preparations temporarily suspend the form and function of public institutions, binding them to the service of private capital, rather than to the provision of public services and the protection of civic rights. In recognizing the democratic deficit that is created when cities host sporting mega-events, this work problematizes the current, local nature of anti-Olympic resistance occurring in Rio. Part three theorizes the transnationalization of anti-Olympic activism using the boomerang theory (Keck & Sikkink 1998), and calls on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to play a more proactive, mediating role in the preparation of Olympic host cities. Part four will issue fourteen recommendations for ways in which the IOC can make Olympic preparations more accommodating of the diverse interests of urban stakeholders, and more accountable to host-city residents.


Rio2016; mega-event urban planning; neoliberal urbanism; human rights violations; the International Olympic Committee; scale-shift processes