Olympic and Paralympic Research

Our world-leading and developing academics critically examine the Olympic and Paralympic movement from a variety of psychological, sociological, political, and managerial perspectives.

Our aim is to generate, facilitate, accumulate and disseminate multi-discipline research and education relating to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and movement, as well as issues relating to the wider world of sport.

Specifically, such activities include:

  • advancing education on the Olympic and Paralympic Games and movement with PGRs, PGTs, and UGs;
  • providing impactful policy and practice guidance with external stakeholders (e.g. those in the Olympic and Paralympic movement, non-governmental organisations, international federations, national governing bodies, governments, local authorities, police/security services, media, etc.);
  • undertaking collaborative research and educational work with other academics/universities, and building research and education networks with Olympic-related scholars.

Our academic staff are happy to discuss research collaboration, as well as research studentships and self-funded PhDs. To find out more about academics working in this research area, please click on the 'People' tab below.


Our collective expertise is reflective of the diversity of topics comprising Olympic and Paralympic studies, and includes: Olympic and Paralympic legacies and impacts; securing the Olympic Games; marketing the Games; policy, politics and international relations; doping and anti-doping; governing the Games; and, the psychology and development of Olympic athletes.

Current research specialisms include:

  • Gendered re-presentations of disability: Equality, empowerment and marginalisation in Paralympic media
  • Body image experiences in retired Olympians: Knowledge, awareness and prevention

Real-world impact

Here are some examples of where our research has had an impact:

A Sociology of Policing and Police-Community Relations at the London 2012 Olympics

This project provided the first extended study of policing and police-community relations before, during, and after a sport mega-event, specifically the London 2012 Olympics. The research focused on the London Borough of Newham, the main centre of the London Games, and involved long-term fieldwork and interviews with different police units and diverse members of the local community. Thus far, the project has generated research findings and publications on Olympic-related crime, the different strategies and practices of the police throughout the Games period, the relationships between police and other services in delivering Olympic-related security, the social impacts of the Olympics in the local area, and the responses of local people to hosting this mega-event.

Related Outputs:

  • Giulianotti R, Armstrong G, Hales G, Hobbs D. (2015a). Global sport mega-events and the politics of mobility: The case of the London 2012 Olympics. British Journal of Sociology, 66(1), pp. 118-140. DOI: 10.1111/1468-4446.12103
  • Giulianotti R, Armstrong G, Hales G, Hobbs D. (2015b). Sport mega-events and public opposition: A sociological study of the London 2012 Olympics. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 39(2), pp. 99-119. DOI: 10.1177/0193723514530565
  • Armstrong G, Giulianotti R, Hobbs D. (2016). Policing the London 2012 Olympics: Legacy and Social Exclusion. London: Routledge


If you would like to collaborate with our researchers, engage in consultancy or discuss potential PhD projects, please contact them using the information on their staff profile.

Our research staff and their areas of research interest are listed below:

  • Professor Alan Bairner – The politics of sport, with specific reference to national identity and gender.
  • Professor Paul Downward – The social, economic, health and wellbeing effects of sport and physical activity.
  • Dr David Fletcher – The psychology of performance excellence in sport, business and other performance domains.
  • Dr Borja García García – European Union sport policy and the governance of global sport.
  • Professor Richard Giulianotti – Sport and globalisation, social inclusion (particularly the ‘sport for development and peace’ sector), youth, sport mega-events, crime and deviance, sport and policing/security, migration, sport policy, and social theory.
  • Professor Sophia Jowett – Coaching, coach-athlete relationship, coach leadership and the impact on performance and wellbeing.
  • Dr Jamie Kenyon – Strategic marketing and management of sport events and organisations (focusing on: branding and relationship management in sport; managing community and volunteer sport organisations (CVSOs); and, the impacts and legacies of events).
  • Dr Anthony Papathomas – Athlete experiences of living with mental illness.
  • Dr Joe Piggin – Sport and physical activity policy.
  • Dr Emma Pullen – The relationship between sport, social inclusion, and health and wellbeing.
  • Dr Minhyeok Tak – Socio-cultural and institutional analysis of integrity issues around sport, including sports betting, match-fixing, violence, abuse.
  • Dr Alex Thurston – Sport policy implementation, sport governance, procurement frameworks and technology in sport. Teaching and disseminating sport management knowledge and theory.

Current PhD projects

Our doctoral researchers (PhDs) include:

  • Amer Alajmi – Risk Perception Associated with Travelling to the Middle East for Sports Events.
  • Iain Gowans – An analysis of intentional misrepresentation in Para Sports classification.
  • Sungkyung Kim – A study on the influence of sport mega-events public relations on residents: support of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
  • Eunsu Lee – Action sports inclusion into the Olympics: Power, politics and policy in the development of elite action sports in South Korea.
  • Brodie Miller – Understanding the female para-athlete: Body-image, gender identity and wellbeing.
  • In'utu Mubanga – South Africa: host of the Africa Cup of Nations 2013.
  • Mengying Niu – Olympic legacy analysis: Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
  • Xiuqi (Lucy) Zhu – Study of E-sport events quality and spectator motivation in different cultural context: a comparison of UK, China and South Korea.

To find out more about PhD opportunities in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, visit our Postgraduate research webpages.

Experts in Sport podcast: Tokyo Talk - Doping in sport

Host Martin Foster is joined by Professor James Skinner, Dr Daniel Read and Professor Barry Houlihan to discuss drug testing athletes, why they dope and much more...


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