This post refers to the second edition and has been archived. Information on the latest (3rd) edition can be found here



Circus Maximus

The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup

Andrew Zimbalist
Release Date: February 2, 2016

Please note that this page is for the second edition of Circus MaximusInformation on the first edition, published in 2015, is available here.

An updated and expanded analysis of the economic tensions behind the Olympics and the World Cup games.

Andrew Zimbalist looks beyond the headlines of two of the world’s most beloved sporting events: the Olympics and the World Cup.

In the updated and expanded edition of his bestselling book, Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup, Zimbalist tackles the bogus claim that cities chosen to host these high-profile sporting events experience an economic windfall. In this new edition he takes aim at the outrageous FIFA scandal, Boston’s bid for the 2024 summer Olympics, and the criticism surrounding the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Circus Maximus focuses on major cities, like London and Barcelona, that have previously hosted these sporting events, to provide context for cities like Tokyo and Rio de Janerio, which are currently bearing the weight of exploding expenses, corruption, and protests. Zimbalist offers a sobering and candid look at the Olympics and the World Cup from outside the echo chamber.

Request an exam copy from Perseus Academic.

Praise for Circus Maximus

Even appropriately jaded readers are likely to be shocked by the evidence …which reveals the magnitude of the deception that precedes these events and the disappointment that follows.”—The Economist


A remarkable study that exposes the extraordinary chicanery and dodgy dealing behind staging the Olympics and the World Cup
The Guardian


Anyone in our broad metropolitan region who worries about the development binge that treats our unique area as a mega-mall for paving over, or who worries about the corrupting influence that commercialization has brought to all amateur sports should read this book.
The Washington Times


A slim yet persuasive book that seeks to set out the “economic gamble behind hosting the Olympics and the World Cup.” And it succeeds; indeed, it succeeds to such an extent that the reader can’t help but wonder why on earth any vaguely sensible city or country would want to play any part in such an expensive business.
—SB Nation


“Circus Maximus’’ ought to be required reading for the city and state officials anxious to bring the Olympics to Boston.
The Boston Globe


Pssst. Wanna buy a velodrome cheap? Andrew Zimbalist’s penetrating examination of how the International Olympic Committee and FIFA have sweet-talked cities and nations into hosting their extravaganzas is absolutely devastating in its ugly detail.—Frank Deford, Author and Commentator


Sport analytics freaks and millennial’s unite! Not to mention lovers of the Olympics and the World Cup. This is a book you will want to read in one sitting. And, speaking of relevance, you can learn major ideas from principles of micro and macroeconomics by reading this book. Anyone who wants to teach these subjects can use “Circus Maximus” alongside any textbook there by teaching very hot applications and making the experience more fun!
—Deborah A. Freund, PhD, Paul O’Neill-Alcoa Chair in Policy Analysis Senior Principal Researcher

Andrew Zimbalist earned a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. He has been in the economics department at Smith College since 1974 and has been a visiting professor at Doshisha University, the University of Geneva, and Hamburg University. Zimbalist has consulted in Latin America for the United Nations Development Program, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and numerous companies. He has consulted in the sports industry for players' associations, cities, companies, teams, and leagues, and has published twenty-five books.