Interrogating states’ soft power strategies: a case study of sports mega-events in Brazil and the UK

Central to this article is the use of sports mega-events as part of a state's “soft power” strategy. The article offers two things: first, a critique of the “soft power” concept and a clearer understanding of what it refers to by drawing on the political use of sports mega-events by states; second, the article seeks to understand how and why sports mega-events are attractive to states with different political systems and at different stages of economic development. To this end a case study of an advanced capitalist state (London Olympics, 2012) and a so-called “emerging” state (FIFA World Cup, 2014; Rio Olympics, 2016) will be undertaken in order to shed light on the role of sports events as part of soft power strategies across different categories of states.