Sample Political Science Paper on neoliberal logic of mega-event industry

The general research puzzle for all suggested topics focuses on unveiling liberal and illiberal trends, governance and narratives in the cases you will choose to analyse. It means, that If you decide to take a topic on gender, or colonialism, or using doping, or legacy of mega-events, etc. for our final paper, you have to study the issue as exemplified by the “spaces of distinction” of a neoliberal logic in a certain country or countries  (in discourses, practices of urban and social protests, resilience, corruption, patriotism, nation-building, etc)


This refers to the following research questions:

How do those states which have authoritarian regimes adjust the neoliberal logic of mega-event industry to their tasks and goals?

How does it affect the industry of mega-events (its structure, ethics, sport standards, representation of gender, surveillance, security, etc)?

Additional research questions to analyse could be as follows:

  1.  Mega-events and urban transformation (liberal vs illiberal ways to transform and organize urban spaces by hosts of mega-events, regarding housing rights of locals, labour rights, environmental issues, legacies of mega-events, management and security during mega-events, eco-sustainability, etc)
  2. Mega-events and nation-building (why and how state hosting mega-events use them for nation-building, what narratives and messages they promote for domestic and international consumption, what tasks and symbolic goals they pursue)
  3. Mega-events, nationalism and patriotism (how nationalism and patriotism are depicted in the cases of nation-building through mega-events)
  4. Mega-events and gender (how mega-events can contribute to the issues of gender, LGBTQ+ and human rights)
  5. Mega-events and athlete’s body (the issues of doping in sport, beauty standards of the athletes’ bodies in popular culture and advertisement, sex testing and gender discrimination)
  6. Mega-events under the state of emergency (issues of surveillance, security, expenses, and Olympics ethics (e.g. why do we need the Olympics during Covid-19 if people can’t visit games, can’t socialize with other fans, etc. Who is a beneficiary in this case?)
  7. Sport under sanctions (is a “sport sovereignty” (as Russia suggests) really possible?)
  8. Paris Olympics 2024 (here you can analyse a whole bunch of the aforementioned issues, including plans for urban transformation, bidding videos, security, environmental issues, volunteering campaigns, inclusive vs exclusive management, questions on possible “white elephants”, social resistance, heritage and mega-events, nation-building, etc).


Notes under gender

Male gaze on sport

  • The 1896 revival of the Olympic Games created few opportunities for female athletes. In the first decades of the 20th century, the IOC reluctantly added golf, archery, tennis, fencing, skating and aquatic contests for women. Athletics, however,remained anathema to officials, as women doing athletics were considered “masculine” and unattractive”
  • In spite of these censures, a coterie of ambitious women found competitive outlets in industrial leagues, faith-basedorganisations, and company-sponsored teams. In 1921, AliceMilliat founded the Fédération Sportive Féminine Internationale, which sponsored the first women’s ‘Olympic Games’ the following year. The popularity of this quadrennial event, in both participation and spectatorship, eventually encouraged the IOC to add five women’s track and field events to the 1928 Games. As it turned out, the sensationalised accounts of the women’s 800m race held back athletics for at least another 30 years.
  • During the Cold Warfemale athletes from the Eastern Block countries were perceived as close to equal to men, enhancing the scores of those Eastern Bloc countries whose female athletes were not constrained by the sameracialised ‘feminine mystique’ that characterisedmuch of Western Europe and North America. The femininity of the “communist block” women are considered ”questionable”


1960s: the era of sex testing began

  • IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations, World Athletics)  initiated the modern era of sex testing at the 1966 European Track and Field Championships in Budapest under ‘persistent speculation through the years about women who turn in manly performances’
  • Types of “sex testing”
  • a ‘screening test’, when women were subjected to visual inspections or ‘nude parades’ before a panel of three female physicians.
  • 1966 Commonwealth Games: introduction a gynaecologicalinspection
  • January 1968: IAAF officials quickly turned to a ‘simpler, objective and more dignified’ laboratory-based chromosome assessment. IOC declared: ‘All women athletes participating in the Games will be controlled
  • The tests, both in practice and in theory, ‘control’ women – they assert authority over the ways they think about and relate to their bodies and the bodies of the peers, as well as the ways that others regard female athletes and women in general.


The case of Ewa Kłobukowska

  • At the 1967 European Cup Games, a six-man medical commission determined that Polish sprinterEwaKlobukowska (who passed the visual inspection at the 1966 European championships) had ‘one chromosome too many’ and ruled her ineligible. The IAAF nullified all of her victories and records, and rescinded her medals, including the gold and bronze from the 1964 Games. At 21 years old, Klobukowskacould no longer compete in the sport to which she had devoted her life. ‘It’s a dirty and stupid thing to do to me,’ she said at the time. ‘I know what I am and how I feel.’
  • The extra sex chromosome that disqualifiedKlobukowskaprobably had little bearing on her sporting talents. The same can be true for women with fewer than 46 chromosomes.
  • there are a number of genetic variationsthat afford women no advantage but would still ban them from Olympic competition, including chromosomal mosaicism, 5-αsteroid-reductase deficiency, gonadal dysgenesis, and varying degrees of Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS), which affects an estimated 1 in 500 athletes and because of which ‘several women are unjustly excluded at each games
  • These women appear to be genetically male, but their external genitalia and phenotype aligns with femaleness. They do not develop strength and musculature associated with ‘male hormones’ or from the use of anabolic steroids, yet the Barr body test would exclude them from women’s competition

Transgenderism in sport

  • Socio-cultural benefits influence success as much, if not more, than those related to biology. Tennis playerRenee Richards, born Richard Raskind, was forced to submit to a sex test before the 1976 US Open.
  • Although she produced ‘gynecological affirmation that she is a woman’, Richards, a post-operative male-to-female transsexual, failed the examination.
  • She waged and won a legal battle to compete as a woman, but many of her competitors argued that her ‘presence was unfair, that despite her operation and resulting feminine appearance, she still retained the muscular advantages of a male and genetically remained a male’

\Death of Stella Walsh and movement towards respecting privacy

  • won 5 gold and 4 silver medals in the 1932 and 1936 Olympic Games.
  • was murdered in the course of a robbery in 1980,
  • her autopsy determined that Walsh possessed ‘tiny’, ‘incomplete’, non-functioning male sex organs and had a genetic variation known as mosaicism.
  • In the ensuing scandal, some called for the repeal of her medals, though the IOC ruled to the contrary.
  • Yet, her Hall of Fame entry on the official USA Track and Field website lists her impressive career and concludes with the phrase, ‘Walsh had male sex organs’.
  • The disclosure is disturbingly out of place on the otherwise celebratory site and, among a host of other grave concerns, raises the issue of an individual’s right to privacy.


The case of María José Martínez-Patiño

  • At the 1983 World Track and Field Championships,Martínez-Patiñowas issued her ‘certificate of femininity’ after passing the sex test.
  • She neglected to bring her documentation to the 1985 World University Games in Japan and submitted to a buccal smear, the results of which officials found problematic.
  • She was told that her samples required a more sophisticated analysis and that it would be best if she faked an injury, dropped out of the race, and awaited the results. She complied. Two months later she received a letter that read: ‘Karyotype is decided 46, XY.’Genetically speaking and, much to her shock,Martínez-Patiño had been classified as male.
  • Dr Albert de la Chappelle, an outspoken critic of the tests, championedMartínez-Patiño’scause at a meeting convened by the IOC. It was the first time that a disqualified athlete brought public attention to her case and three months later the medical chairman of the IAAF restored her licence to compete. But by then, the next Olympics were not until 1992 and, after losing so much time to her legal battles, Martínez-Patiño fell ten-hundredths of a second short of qualifying for the Games.

Criticism of sex testing

  • 1) The tests are unreliable and the results are easily misinterpreted
  • 2) There is a possibility that ‘men with a female sex chromatin pattern’ will pass the tests
  • 3) The tests are useless for considering psychological or social status.
  • In 1990 and 1991 the IAAF abandoned its policy of validating the sex of all female competitors
  • The IOC continued to test all athletes until 1999.
  • By the end of the 20th century, the IOC’s Executive Board suspended the tests as a qualification all competitors must meet though it, like the IAAF, reserves the right to compel individual women to succumb to testing.


Who is feminine enough?

  • Issues of cultural standards and colonial perspective
  • IOC and IAAF  medical committee:
  • “Athletes who identify themselves as female but have medical disorders that give them masculine characteristics should have their disorders diagnosed and treated…Sports authorities would send photographs of athletes to experts … If the expert thinks the athlete might have a sexual-development disorder, the expert would order further testing and suggest treatment” (qtd in Schultz 2012: 452)
  • LeonardChuene, the former President of Athletics South Africa, asked, for example: ‘Who are white people to question the makeup of an African girl? I say this is racism, pure and simple … It is outrageous for people from other countries to tell us “We want to take her to a laboratory test because we don’t like her nose, or her figure”
  • Evolution of the sex testing: a shift from the‘thepossibility of sex fraud’, to anxieties over ‘those of intersexual or notoriously aggressive characteristics’, to the need to support those individuals with ‘sexual-development disorders’


mainstream sport reporting entrenches systems of discrimination and oppression, with multinational Olympic sponsors and broadcasting rights-holders having a vested interest in maintaining existing social divisions based on gender, class, sexuality, ability, race and ethnicity.


Male gaze on sport (and vice versa)

  • Throughout the 20th century,control of the sporting program and media coverage has been, for the most part, in male hands(including males controlled the International Olympic Committee (IOC), international sports federations, national Olympic committees, top Olympic sponsors and Olympic media networks)
  • history demonstrates that equitable treatment of female athletes has not been a high priority for Olympic officials and Olympic media.
  • Feminist movement did a lot for including more and more Olympic sports available for women’s participation