Building a Wall Against Refugees: The Refugee Olympic Team & American Politics

Authors: Travis Scheadler, Alan Ledford, Ph.D.

Corresponding Authors:
Travis Scheadler
tscheadler@wilmington.edu
(937) 751-5799
6811 Oakland Rd
Loveland, OH 45140
Wilmington College

Alan Ledford, Ph.D.
alan_ledford@wilmington.edu
(937) 481-2253
1870 Quaker Way
Pyle Box 1246
Wilmington, OH 45177
Wilmington College

Building a Wall: The Refugee Olympic Team & American Politics

ABSTRACT
In 2015, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that 10 athletes would make up the new Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio. The IOC formed the ROT to increase awareness for the refugee crisis and improve attitudes towards refugees. Google provided evidence that searches for “refugee” and other similar terms and phrases skyrocketed during the Olympic Games. The present study investigates the effect of the ROT on attitudes towards refugees. A two-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) analyzed the effects of the ROT and attendance at a refugee awareness event while another one-way MANOVA analyzed the effects of the Travel Ban. The lack of significant results stemming from the ROT media intervention may indicate that the ROT was not effective in changing attitudes towards refugees. Media toward the Travel Ban and the U.S. presidential election in 2016, however, may have had an impact as support for the Travel Ban was significantly related to prejudice, symbolic threat, realistic threat, empathy, and altruism. Although the ROT was meant to counteract negative media, the negative media may have been framed as more important than the ROT. These findings provide important data for further sport-for-peace interventions.
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