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The Olympics in International Affairs

July 22, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Despite overwhelming resistance from the Japanese public and the nation’s top health officials, the 2020 2021 Summer Olympic Games will begin in Tokyo on July 23. On the eve of the Opening Ceremonies, Balsillie Fellow Tim Elcombe will explore connections between the Olympics and the global governance architecture across the BSIA research clusters. After providing a synopsis of the Olympics’ historical role in politics and international affairs, Dr. Elcombe will highlight current political issues related to the Olympics, including the viability of hosting the Games during an ongoing pandemic, threats of boycotts related to the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, the increased reliance on authoritarian regime interest (and nationalist fervour) for future Olympics, debates regarding nationalism and representation, emerging biosecurity threats, and the Olympics’ potential contributions (and hinderances) to SDG initiatives. These broader governance issues will be viewed through the lens of the International Olympic Committee as a unique, complex, and ideologically selective (utopian) hybrid institution participating in multilateral efforts extending beyond its primary role as organizer of mega sporting events.

About the speaker

Tim Elcombe is an Associate Professor and past Department Chair of Kinesiology & Physical Education at Wilfrid Laurier University. Dr. Elcombe’s current scholarly work involves developing normative concepts and tools to better understand problems (and resolution processes) in and through sport; considers the uses of sport as a sociocultural “tool”; applies philosophical pragmatism to address ethical issues in sport; and explores how sport (kinesiology) inquiry can be turned “inside out” to enhance its sociocultural impact. Dr. Elcombe’s research has been published in a range of academic volumes, including the Journal of the Philosophy of Sport; Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, the SAIS Review of International Affairs, Journal of Canadian Studies, The Bloomsbury Companion to the Philosophy of Sport, and MacMillan’s Interdisciplinary Handbook dedicated to Sport Philosophy.

Japan Sport Olympic Square

Photo credit: Ryosei Watanabe/iStock


July 22, 2021
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Event Category:


Balsillie School of International Affairs, 67 Erb Street West
Waterloo, ON Canada
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