Protestaffice olympische spelen met bom en de tekst "Amsterdam Never. Sine panem et non circenses.'
Protestaffice olympische spelen met bom en de tekst "Amsterdam Never. Sine panem et non circenses.'

Calling for Timeout

The Globalization of Protest against Mega Sporting Events, 1960s to the Present
1 September 2019 until 31 August 2023
Project type

These days, protest and sport almost seem synonymous, from athlete activism in solidarity with Black Lives Matter to protest against sporting events in authoritarian states. But how has sport become such an enticing platform for protest? Why is it that human rights and sporting events are now two sides of the same coin? Why do the IOC and FIFA now embrace human rights and environmental sustainability rhetorically, whereas they categorically rejected both as ‘political’ until very recently?

This PhD project sets out to explore how and why public protest against the hosting of mega-sporting events, and in particular the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup, has emerged and transnationalised from the 1960s to the present. The research focuses on local urban and environmental protest and cross-border protest around human rights and political issues. The project also aims to examine in which ways international sport organisations, as well as host states, have responded to opposition over time. In doing so, this dissertation aims to bring together the fields of sport, protest, and political history on the one hand, and research on social movements studies and international organizations on the other


Paul Reef, ''Sport en mensenrechten. Argentinië 1978', in Nog meer wereldgeschiedenis van Nederland, red. L. Heerma van Voss e.a. (Amsterdam: Ambo|Anthos, 2022), 631-637.

Paul Reef, ''Spelen boycotten? Pak liever de sportbonden aan'', Trouw​, 15 December 2021.

Paul Reef, ‘’Over mensenrechten, mega-sportevenementen en politiek’’, Sport Knowhow XL, 8 June 2021

Paul Reef, ‘’Geschiedenis leert dat sportboycots er wel degelijk toe doen’’, de Volkskrant, 3 March 2021

Paul Reef, ‘’NOlympics in Amsterdam! De strijd over de stedelijke ruimte en het stedelijke krachtenveld rondom Amsterdams Olympische kandidatuur, 1984-1986’’, Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis 133, no. 4 (2020): 659-686

Paul Reef, ‘’Sport op het snijvlak van transnationale en politieke geschiedenis’’, [Book review The Ideals of Global Sport. From Peace to Human Rights]. Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis 133, no. 3 (2020): 585-587


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