The International Olympic Committee : a United Nations permanent observer of post-politics ? / Nicolien van Luijk

Van Luijk, Nicolien

In October of 2009 the United Nations (UN) General Assembly accepted the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) application for Permanent Observer status. This is an honour usually reserved for non-Member States and intergovernmental organisations; very rarely do non-governmental organisations (NGOs) obtain this position. The position enables the IOC to directly influence General Assembly policy decisions. This paper examines how the IOC was able to obtain such a unique status when other NGOs have had their applications rejected, and asks: what does this appointment mean for the involvement of broader civil society at the UN? The paper argues that there are various factors at play that have influenced the relationship between a global sports organisation and an international development organisation, including the neoliberalisation of development, the global power of sport, and processes of legitimation for both the IOC and the UN.

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