This paper will present an analysis of coverage of Olympic-related issues in the British press in the run up to London 2012. In particular, it will concentrate on two distinct, yet related, themes: fear and contradictory statements on the need to support the event. It draws inspirations from the observation that as the London Games approach the two themes have been gaining increasing prominence in the press. on one side, readers are constantly reminded of possible dangers that the megaevent will entail, from unprecedented traffic congestion to terrorism and the spread of disease. On the other hand, the public is encouraged - implicitly and explicitly - to be supportive of the event and “grumblers” are chided. Drawing on insights gained from discourse analysis and Appraisal Theory (a linguistic framework for the analysis of evaluative language), this paper will argue that the public is being faced with contradictory messages and burdened with conflicting expectations. In so doing, the paper will highlight the role of the media in shaping (and confusing) perceptions in relation to so-called “mega events” (specifically the Olympics). It will also argue that, in a post-religious, post-ideological society, the latter have become a preferred site for the display of allegiances and fears previously associated with other such domains and have mutuated linguistic practices from them.
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