The four 'knowns' of sports mega-events

John Horne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

239 Citations (Scopus)


This article uses a piece of writing in The Guardian newspaper by the philosopher Slavoj Zizek ('The empty wheelbarrow', 19 February, p. 23, 2005) about the former US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, as a framework by which to reflect critically on major international sporting events, or sports mega-events. It suggests that it is an academic's duty to look critically at the assumptions, beliefs and misrepresentations that are often suppressed, or, perhaps more accurately, repressed, about sports mega-events. The article is based on an analysis of research and writing about sports mega-events, some of which offer more comprehensive reviews of the literature. It is argued that in their enthusiasm to host and support sports 'megas', politicians, senior administrators of sport, corporate leaders and even some academics may often encourage the pretence that we do not know as much as we do about things that actually form the background to them. Information is used from studies of sports mega-events that have taken place, or are planned, in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and North America to illustrate the four 'knowns', but the main focus is on the 'unknown knowns'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-96
Number of pages16
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Jan
Externally publishedYes


  • Foot ball World Cup
  • Impacts
  • Legacies
  • Olympic Games
  • Sports mega-events

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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