Space Matters: The 2010 Winter Olympics and its Discontents

Space Matters: The 2010 Winter Olympics and its Discontents

by Jules Boykoff

 

Abstract: The history of the Olympic Games is fraught with racism, class privilege, and questionable leadership from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In the modern era, the Olympics have generated an increasing scale of dissent. Activists challenging the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver adopted concertedly spatial strategies and tactics. Organizing around three main issues—indigenous rights, economic concerns, and civil liberties—they linked in solidarity with civil libertarians, human rights

workers, and bystander publics. This article analyzes these activist actions through the lens of geographical theory, examining how the production of space, scale bending, and the calculated construction of discursive space helped anti-Olympics activists build camaraderie and foment a meaningful challenge to the Games that resonated with the general public. Activists in Vancouver were effective, and before the Olympics dock in London for the 2012 Summer Games, it makes sense to pause and reconsider their methods of dissident citizenship.

Key words: activism, Olympics, dissent, space, scale, media