Political Protest and Rule 50: Exploring the Polycentric Governance of International and Olympic Sport

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International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics

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Over the past two decades, there has been increasing academic interest in examining the governance of international and Olympic sport (IOS). Common governance approaches applied to sport include federal/unitary governance, systemic governance, collaborative governance, stakeholder governance, and network governance. Despite its attention to system-level governance including multiple decision centres with overlapping jurisdictions, polycentric governance has yet to be applied to sport. This paper examines the IOC’s Rule 50 as an empirical case to evaluate the potential of the theory, and more specifically, to analyse how the multiple governing authorities in IOS create and maintain regulatory control. In considering the conceptual characteristics of polycentric governance, the paper finds that it has value in illuminating several key features of IOS and has the potential to add conceptual rigour to the study of a number of different sport systems. The paper finishes with ideas for future research where polycentric governance could be used to garner further insights in IOS and other sport sectors.


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