Global Athlete
Global Athlete

Episode · 7 months ago

Overview and History of International Sport Governance with Prof. Jules Boykoff


The Olympics are no doubt an iconic sports staple and whether watching gymnasts tumble across an arena or skiers flying down the slopes, chances are you’ve watched—and probably cheered for—an Olympic event. Professor Jules Boykoff joins Noah Hoffman to break down the history of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and share the impact of some remarkable highs and lows of the modern Olympic games.

In this episode, we talk about…

  • Pierre Coubertin’s vision and who he wanted to participate in the Olympics
  • How athletes fit into the Olympic story throughout history
  • Peter O’Connor’s activism at the 1906 Olympics
  • Alice Milliat’s alternative Olympics for women
  • The lasting influence of John Carlos, Tommie Smith and the Olympic Project for Human Rights in 1968
  • How the IOC leverages sanctions against athletes in present day
  • IOC’s governance structure and accountability
  • 4 Trends of Olympic host cities: high spending, militarization, displacement and eviction, greenwashing
  • How the United Nations addresses the democracy deficit of the IOC
  • The state of exception the IOC thrives on vs. state of emergency in Japan for upcoming summer games

Memorable Quotes:

  • “All to often, those stories of fighting back on the part of principled athletes who weren’t happy with the way the Olympics were being organized, get shuffled under the historical rug….Athletes have been standing up to those in power...and standing up for their freedoms and their political beliefs.”
  • “Athletes have a tremendous amount of leverage if they act in unison, if they act in concert, and if they have a good plan going in.”

Guest Bio: 

Jules Boykoff writes on a range of subjects, including political activism, the Olympic Games, and climate change. Boykoff holds a Ph.D. in political science from American University. He currently teaches political science at Pacific University in Oregon.

He is the author of four books on the Olympics—NOlympians: Inside the Fight Against Capitalist Mega-Sports in Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Beyond (Fernwood, 2020), Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics (Verso, 2016), Activism and the Olympics: Dissent at the Games in Vancouver and London (Rutgers University Press, 2014), and Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games (Routledge, 2013).

Links to resources:

Jules Boykoff

“A Bid for a Better Olympics” New York Times (13 August 2014) Join the movement for athlete driven change across the world of sport at

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