Title: Exploring the involvement of athletes in influencing a host country's image via social media: the case of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Authors: Maksim Berdnikov; Norm O'Reilly; Gashaw Abeza

Addresses: M.A. International Sport Development and Politics, German Sport University Cologne, Am Sportpark Müngersdorf 6, 50933, Cologne, Germany ' College of Business and Economics, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada ' Department of Kinesiology – Sport Management, Towson University, 8000 York Road, Towson, Maryland, 21252, USA

Abstract: This study explores the role of athletes in influencing the image of an Olympic Games host country via social media, specifically the image of the country of Brazil during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The study employed a content analysis method based on data gathered from Canadian Olympic athletes' (n = 314) social media platforms, namely Twitter, Instagram and Facebook over a period of three months. The study identified eight categories of Brazil's image communicated on the athletes' social media platforms. These include urbanscape, natural environment, country's landmarks, social issues, cultural assets, emotional connection, games operations, and ease of travel. The most often communicated posts were in the urbanscape category (44.0%) followed by natural environment (20.2%) and country landmarks (17.2%). Contributions to the field, managerial implications, and ideas for future research are included.

Keywords: mega events; place image; content analysis; Twitter; Facebook; Instagram.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSMM.2021.118812

International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 2021 Vol.21 No.3/4, pp.209 - 225

Accepted: 17 Nov 2020
Published online: 29 Oct 2021 *

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