Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Kinesiology

Abstract

This dissertation examines whether or not the rules governing participation in the Olympic Games facilitate the attainment of the values and ideals associated with the Olympic Games. Compared to the constitutive and regulative rules of sport, little critical analysis has been done on sports’ auxiliary rules concerning who can compete and under whatconditions. Whilerestrictionsonentriesarewarrantedtoensurethesizeofthe Olympic Games does not grow to include an unmanageable number of competitors, some rules that limit eligibility appear to be more unfair and discriminatory than others. Utilizing a mixed ethical framework, which focuses on rule-consequentialism and the moral concepts of equality, justice, and moral desert, through a liberal feminist lens, this dissertation examines the moral acceptability of current Olympic eligibility rules.

Four components are common among many conceptions of Olympism. The four aspects include: 1) an emphasis on fairness and fair play, 2) expectations of equality and non-discrimination, 3) a focus on ethical behaviour, and 4) the belief that the Olympic Games offer educational prospects for youths worldwide. A thematic analysis of the Olympic Charter and a representative sample of rulebooks of the International Federations (IFs) rendered six themes of rules that restrict eligibility to compete at the Olympic Games: 1) sex and gender; 2) anti-doping; 3) citizenship; 4) behaviour and dispute resolution; 5) uniforms and competitive attire; and 6) age limits. Each theme was critically analyzed to determine if the rules restricting eligibility are morally acceptable or unacceptable and in need of revision.

Through a comparative analysis of the Olympic ideals and the eligibility rules of participation it was determined that auxiliary rules set by the IOC and IFs both hinder and

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facilitate the pursuit of the Olympic ideals. Several imposed auxiliary rules pertaining to an athlete’s eligibility to compete at the Olympic Games are in opposition to the goal of promoting equality, fairness, ethical behaviour and education through sport. The most pressing inequities stem from rules that restrict women from competing in a program of events equitable to the men’s program and rules that violate athletes’ rights to autonomy and privacy.

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