Accommodating the spectacle

Jon Coaffee*, Lorraine Johnston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Spectacle, as noted in chapter 2, is an integral feature of the Olympic festivals. In this respect, the modern Olympics are events that go far beyond the customs and practices of normal sporting competitions. They embody numerous symbolic elements and quasi-religious rituals believed to have connection with the ancient Olympics, along with newly invented traditions such as the torch relay, the fi ve rings, the fl ag and the Opening Ceremony oath. Increasing incursion of media considerations have led to even more dramatic displays, ceremonies and urban design, with MacAloon (1981, cited in Cashman, 1999, p. 5) noting that the modern Olympics are ‘an immense playground, marketplace, theatre, battlefi eld, church, arena, festival and Broadway of cultural images, symbols and meaning’. This trend is not without its critics. For many observers, there is a tension between the practices adopted in the modern Olympics and the ideals of those that revived the Games in the late nineteenth century. From this perspective, the Games have become ‘an overhyped commercial extravaganza and a gross mass spectacle in which corruption and nationalism are more prominent than high-minded idealism’
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOlympic Cities
Subtitle of host publicationCity Agendas, Planning, and the World's Games, 1896-2012
EditorsJohn Gold, Margaret Gold
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780203822920
ISBN (Print)9781138832695
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


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