Global sport mega-events and the politics of mobility: The case of the London 2012 Olympics

© London School of Economics and Political Science 2014.This paper examines the politics of mobility which surrounded the London 2012 Olympics. We provide a critical discussion of the mobility conflicts, problems and criticisms which emerged from our research with local people in the Stratford and wider Newham areas of London, where most Olympic events were located. The paper is divided into four broad parts. First, we identify and discuss the relevant components of the 'mobilities paradigm' in social science which underpin our analysis. Second, we briefly outline our research methods, centring particularly on fieldwork and interviews with different social groups. Third, we examine in detail the six main themes of mobility politics which were evident at London 2012, relating to social context, event construction, event mobility systems, commercial mobilities, the mobile politics of exclusion, and contested modes of mobility. In doing so, we seek to extend the mobilities paradigm by introducing various concepts and keywords - notably on the three-speed city, entryability, mobility panics, instrumental mobility, and corporate kettling - which may be utilized by social scientists to examine mobility systems in other social contexts. We conclude by reaffirming the significance of mobility-focused research at sport and other mega-events, and by indicating future lines of inquiry for social scientists.