In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Sport Mega-Events Security

  • Introduction

Criminology Sport Mega-Events Security
Francisco R. Klauser, Richard Giulianotti
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 June 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 February 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0149


In recent years, sport mega-events have entered a new phase of development and growth. Their securitization provides perhaps the most striking illustration of this transformation. Ann emerging field of research has begun to take shape in echoing the substantial increase in security concerns and expenditure. This literature has sought to explore the key risks at sport mega-events as well the changing modalities, the sociospatial implications, the legacies, and the multiple interests and forms of collaboration that all coalesce to shape security and surveillance strategies at such events. In this review, we aim to discuss some of the most prominent recent contributions in the field of sport mega-event security. To begin the process, we would like to point to two general ways of classifying the existing literatures. First, a possible distinction can be made with regard to the main themes of research and analysis. Here, we distinguish between four main thematic axes: (1) the logics and functioning of security governance at sport mega-events, (2) key risk issues, (3) implications of sport mega-event security, and (4) the relationships between mega-event security and the general public. While this classification provides a useful heuristic to assess the existing literatures, it should be emphasized that in most contributions, multiple themes are studied simultaneously. A second possible criterion for classifying the existing expertise on sport mega-event security lies in the approach and posture adopted by the authors. Two main poles can be distinguished here. On the one hand, a vast body of work (especially in policing studies and in circles of security professionals) focuses on the probabilities and impacts of specific risks at sport mega-events and on the efficiency of specific measures and strategies to deal with these risks. On the other hand, the (critical) social sciences have sparked a growing literature over the years, focusing on the wider (social, spatial, cultural, economic, etc.) implications and on the logics and motivations of security governance at sport mega-events. Mapping on to, but not synonymous with, the previously outlined thematic divide, this distinction may achieve a certain operational force inasmuch as it sheds light on the objectives and user categories of the relevant contributions. However, in many cases, the distinction is not easy to draw. The different approaches and postures differ in degree rather than in kind.

General Overviews

Despite the growing body of work on sport mega-event security, the research field is still very much “in the making.” A lack of truly empirical and comparative work persists, and various scholars have rightly hinted at the need for more detailed investigations that add empirical depth and theoretical nuance to our understanding of security and surveillance at sport mega-events. Partly, this lack of in-depth research can be explained by the unavoidable secrecy and confidentiality in the world of mega-event security. Thus, it is all the more remarkable that over the last few years, a number of relatively sophisticated studies have emerged to take shape, which are starting to fill the remaining research gaps. We may indeed conclude that some of the more programmatic statements expressed in previous work have inspired more sustained critical attention to this research field.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.