Guide to Sports and Olympic Games Law

Well, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games will soon begin in London, England.

I am sure many of you are thinking: 100m sprint, marathon, water polo, rhythmic gymnastics, pentathlon maybe.

Is it just me? I hear Olympics, and my mind starts imagining protests over athletes being excluded, the odd bribe here and there, a little bit of trade-mark infringement, a few doping scandals, maybe demonstrators being kettled and baton charged, which all leads to: lawsuits!

There are lots of resources out there to understand the legal aspects of this summer’s London sportapalooza (and of sports in general):

  • The most recent issue of Legal Information Management, a journal of the British and Irish Association of Law Libraries, is devoted to the Olympics and sports law. From the editorial: “The opening article, by Jack Anderson of Queens’ University Belfast, defines the subject of sports law and argues that, in the truest sense, it has ‘arrived’ as a legal entity and an academic discipline. Mark James and Guy Osburn jointly discuss the legal status of the Olympic Charter and its interpretation by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. They also look at the impact of UK legislation in the context of the London Olympics. Simon Boyes reviews the literature in the field of sports law and traces its development to the current day. Esther Cho, of the John Wolff Comparative & International Law Library at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington DC, offers an essential, and detailed, research guide to the legal resources relating Olympic and international sports law. Meanwhile, Peter Charlish, of Sheffield Hallam University, tackles that most controversial, and often high profile, issue that affects sport, including the Olympics; the use of drugs. Away from the Olympics, Jonathan Morgan writes an insightful piece on The Jockey Club and judicial review and John Eaton, Librarian and Associate Professor of Law at the University of Manitoba, takes a look at gender equality in that most traditionally masculine of sports – Canadian ice hockey.”
  • The GlobaLex collection at the New York University School of Law has published a Research Guide on International Sports Law: “At its most noble level, sport is a powerful societal phenomenon that unites communities and fosters international exchange and friendship. At its basest level, the fervor sport induces can trigger violence and the desire to engage in illegal activities in order to gain a competitive edge. Moreover, at all levels, sport in today’s global community is about big money and the disputes that naturally follow. This guide is intended to highlight some of the resources researchers can use to explore the many aspects of international sports law. This guide covers the key institutions and organizations that govern international sports. Attention is paid to the structure and key documents of these institutions. Dispute settlement mechanisms for sport are included, with reference to sources of sports decisions. International treaties that relate to sports are listed, along with key policy documents. Finally, out of the many themes that arise in relation to international sports law, these themes are briefly covered in this guide: human rights, discrimination, violence, women and sports, and sports and the EU. “
  • The Peace Palace Library in the Hague has produced 2 research guides, one on sports law, the other on the Olympics. Each provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format, handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest
  • Exploring the Court of Arbitration for Sport: “The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), recognized as an emerging leader in international sports dispute resolution, was created specifically to address sports-related matters. Since its formation, the CAS has addressed a wide range of sports-related issues, including matters pertaining to the positive drug tests of athletes, the challenges to technical decisions of officials made during competition, and the eligibility of athletes to compete in the Olympic Games. Of significance, CAS awards have been recognized as developing a lex sportiva, that is, a set of guiding principles and rules in international sports law” (2006 article from Law Library Journal)
  • Internet Research Guide for Olympic Studies: “Intute, a British university consortium that offers free online service access to evaluated web resources for education and research, published a subject booklet in 2008 entitled ‘Internet resources for Olympic studies’. The booklet describes resources relating to associations, the history of the Olympic Games, past and future Games, athletes, sports research, event management, and legal issues (arbitration of sports disputes, disability sports, gender equity and doping).”
  • The Australian Parliamentary Library just published The Olympics: background and London update: “This paper provides brief background information for Australian Parliamentarians on the origins of the Olympics and a snapshot of the development of the Games since the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. Particular reference is made to the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 and the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The achievements of Australian Olympians are also a special focus of the paper. The paper also provides an insight into some of the many social and political dimensions of the Olympics.”


  1. This is so interesting. Big thanks for this post.