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The Olympic torch relay in Europe : a time-space for the European public sphere to appear ?

Abstract : The Olympic torch relay on the European continent, since its ignition in Olympia, until its departure from Paris to San Francisco USA, offers a textbook case to examine, concretely, the emergence of an European public opinion, verily of an European public sphere, even though it was temporary.
The Olympic torch relay was conceived by the organizers of the Beijing Olympic Games as a global media event. The reference frame was ready-made for the media, besides stakeholders of the Games. The outbreak of the civil society on the media stage, widely supported in the European countries by the public opinions, imposed another reading of the event. The Olympic torch relay, as a prelude to the Beijing Games, indeed crystallized the criticisms towards the Chinese regime.
Initiated by journalists to the heart of the media coverage of the event, and giving simultaneously to see the work of censorship taking place during the broadcasting of the event, this contesting amplified the diverse initiatives carried by European citizens.
As a consequence, for the European media, it was all the less possible not to report recurring demonstrations during the relay, so that the networks of citizens invested the Web to spread them widely.
This exceptional configuration contributed, the transit time of the torch relay, to the representation in the media of a public European sphere and a European citizenship all the more legitimate that they were facing a Power and its institutions of control, embodied in the " Men In Blue ".
As a consequence, China could only get down to the construction of an internationalized Chinese public opinion, which for lack of public sphere, could take shape for the television channels in the world, the time-space of a globalized demonstration, on April 19th, 2008.
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Contributor : Françoise Papa <>
Submitted on : Saturday, May 30, 2009 - 10:46:33 AM
Last modification on : Friday, November 20, 2020 - 11:16:08 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00389918, version 1




Françoise Papa. The Olympic torch relay in Europe : a time-space for the European public sphere to appear ?. Media & Jornalismo, 2009, 8 n°1 (14), pp.11. ⟨halshs-00389918⟩



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