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Olympic drive: study investigates sports participation


Steve Spinks
6 March 2012
Faster, higher, stronger – it’s the credo of the Olympic Games but does that drive for two weeks of athletic perfection translate into athletic participation for the general population in the country that hosts the Olympic Games?

The legacy of participation in sport following the Olympic Games is one of the facets Southern Cross University Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Arianne Reis will study after she was awarded a prestigious research grant from the International Olympic Committee recently.

The grant, an initiative of the IOC Olympic Studies Centre, is part of an annual research program targeting early career researchers engaged in scholarly research on the Olympic movement, its history and ideals and the impact of the Olympic Games on the various aspects of contemporary society and culture.

Dr Reis, from the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, has teamed up with Fabiana Rodrigues de Sousa Mast of the Exercise and Health Sciences Institute at the University of Basel, Switzerland, to win the grant. There were more than 30 applications from 21 different countries, and seven were selected for funding by an expert panel on Olympic Studies. She was the only researcher from Australia to be awarded a grant.

Dr Reis and her research partner will specifically study sport and the physical activity legacy of the Olympic Games for youth of low socio-economic communities in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil will host the Olympics in 2016.

“The study is intended to contribute to the field of events management, particularly event legacies, by discussing an oft-cited but rarely explored intangible legacy of the Olympic Games; the sport participation legacy,” Dr Reis said.

“The aim of the overall research program is to conduct an investigation of the perceptions of Rio de Janeiro residents of the sport participation legacy to be derived from hosting the 2016 summer games.

“Last year we initiated this program of research by investigating the perceptions of physical education professionals in Rio de Janeiro and now, with the support from this grant, we will expand it to explore the view of parents of young residents from low income communities that are located near to where some of the Olympic venues are or will be situated.

“In particular, we will investigate whether or not programs promised by the Olympic Bidding Committee for Rio 2016 with the aim of increasing sport and physical activity participation are reaching the young residents of at-risk communities of Rio de Janeiro.

“The study will involve interviews and focus groups with members of the community of five favelas in Rio de Janeiro. We will also collect archival data in the International Olympic Committee’s premises in Lausanne about previous bidding campaigns (both successful and unsuccessful) and their approaches to the sport participation legacy. I am scheduled to be in Rio de Janeiro for the whole month of April and in Lausanne in late August 2012.”

Photo: Dr Arianne Reis.