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Sports mega-events as part of a nation's soft power strategy: The cases of Germany (2006) and the UK (2012)

Grix, Jonathan and Houlihan, B (2014) Sports mega-events as part of a nation's soft power strategy: The cases of Germany (2006) and the UK (2012). British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 16 (4). pp. 572-596. ISSN 1369-1481

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Abstract

The potential positive impact on a nation's image has moved from being a welcome consequence to a significant justification for investing in hosting sports mega-events. Mobilising Joseph Nye's concept of 'soft power' we empirically investigate Germany's strategic use of a sports 'mega' (the 2006 FIFA World Cup) to successfully alter their image among 'foreign publics'. We then analyse the example of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games for Britain's international prestige. For both cases we draw on and analyse official government documents and newspaper sources written before and after the Games. The findings reveal the stark contrast between Germany's and Britain's sport and 'soft power' strategies: the former undertook a long-term, well-planned and resourced approach to altering its poor international image; the latter appeared far less concerned about capitalising on the Olympics to enhance Britain's (seemingly robust) international image.

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