Public Diplomacy and the Olympic Games

The 2016 Summer Olympics kicked off Friday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, bringing more than 11,000 of the world’s best athletes to the South American city. As these Olympians vie for the podium—including one USC Master of Public Diplomacy students (Rebecca Heyliger, MPD 2015)—CPD reflects on the public diplomacy potential of the Olympic Games. From nation-branding to cross-cultural dialogue and engagement, the Olympics are a mega sporting event for public diplomacy fans and practitioners alike. Below is a selection of blogs that both assess past Olympic games (Sochi, Russia in Winter 2014; London in Summer 2012) and offer insight on future Olympic hosts (Tokyo in 2020, and Los Angeles’ bid for Summer 2024).

Cheating for Gold Defies Purpose, Spirit of Olympics: From Salt Lake City to Sochi to Rio, Olympic corruption and scandal is tarnishing the games' image.


The Olympics Go Downtown for Tokyo 2020: Tokyo is promising the most urbanised games, in the most urbanised city, for the most urbanised century. Can it deliver? 


Toronto out, is U.S. in for the 2024 Olympics?: Alan Abrahamson on the implications of Canada's exit from hosting Olympics 2024.



Featured Expert Opinions: A Look Back at Brazil’s Hosting of the World Cup and Forward to Rio 2016: Did the World Cup improve or damage Brazil's reputation on the international stage? 


The White House Sochi Delegation: An open letter to President Obama appealing his decision to put politics with Russia ahead of the Olympic athletes. 



Special Olympics: A Uniquely Valuable PD Asset: Barry Sanders reflects on the 2015 Opening Ceremonies in Los Angeles.



Additional Insight:


Photo by Jon Curnow | CC BY 2.0


Visit CPD's Online Library

Explore CPD's vast online database featuring the latest books, articles, speeches and information on international organizations dedicated to public diplomacy.