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64OLYMPIC REVIEW OLYMPIC RESEARCH CORNER they are a phenomenon in top level sport which we know only little about. The semantic meaning of " spectator" is usually related to the semantic meaning of the word " mass", and if we follow the assumption of the philosopher Krakauer, sport turns mass into an ornament. Sport science has also mostly described spectators as a general pattern without doing justice to the people exercising the function and role of spectators. Taking a closer look at the spectators reveals fairly quickly that the phenomenon of sport spectators is marked by an impressive diversity. The Olympic Games in Beijing provided me with the opportunity to watch more than half of all Olympic sports, integrating myself several times a day into completely different types or categories of spectators. My observations quickly made me realise that the ( typical) " sport spectator" does not exist, that, in fact, we need to ask if the Olympic sports are to be distinguished and categorised by their specific spectators. But spectators in the gymnastics finals or in the athletics stadium or in team handball are by no means uniform. There are, for example, those spectators who purchased their tickets having actually paid the price printed on them. Beside these there is a group with discount tickets; quite frequently, however, we meet what could be called " invited spectators" who have been given free tickets. The behaviour of one category of spectators may differ considerably from the other. Meanwhile the VIP- spectators are playing a special role. They can be distinguished into several VIP categories; among them there may be decorative spectators, real as well as " wannabe" stars are consciously invited to sporting competitions in order to convince the regular spectators of the events' particular importance. And there is also an increasing number of " applause spectators", who are given the respective equipment in order to generate the desired noise level, which, in turn, the organisers believe, will enhance the entertainment value of the sporting competition. During the Olympic Games in Beijing it was apparent and very typical, especially at the team competitions, that each nation's team was accom-panied by their own crowds, frequently displaying a specific fan culture. Another typical group of spectators are the athletes, who usually go from the Olympic Village to selected competitions. The athletes support and cheer for their own team mates or are neutral observers of a competitionwhich they find fascinating merely in terms of the sporting performances. Again and again we see spectators who impartially applaud every sporting achievement, who are able to assess the opponents' as well as the own team's performance, consequently to be labelled " super- impartial spectators". Another small group may be called " expert spectators" including those who can evaluate and assess all athletes' sporting performances on the basis of specific competence, taking notes during competitions and often being themselves integrated into a sport system as officials. These groups of spectators have to be distinguished clearly from the " biased spectators", who are exclusively oriented towards their own athletes. Particularly during the Olympic Games in China this bias could frequently be observed in the context of the Chinese athletes' sporting success. There were, however, also biased spectators among many guest nations. Therefore it would be wrong to relate this phenomenon exclusively to the hosts, and the same applies to psychological patterns to be observed among spectators. The spectator diversity described above certainly requires additions, but it would be a mistake to talk of anonymous spectators accompanying sport. As has already been pointed out, this also becomes apparent when observing sports in their totality. At a tennis tournament, politeness is characteristic of the spectators. Silence during the match, orderly applause, fair rewards for extraordinary performances still go without saying in this sport. In Beijing I experienced the Olympic tennis tournament as something extraordinary, while the team handball tournament was largely marked by the participating teams. Two blocks of spectators opposed each other with many neutral spectators, who lacked specific knowledge of the game and thus were unable to assess the sporting performance of the players. The atmosphere inside the sports hall was characterised by the respective fans' shouts and chants. The atmosphere, created by the spectators of the Olympic team handball tournament differed greatly from German domestic matches. A culture of fair- play was evident that is hardly to be seen in normal first division handball. This difference also becomes particularly apparent at the basketball and football tournaments. The aggressive chants oriented against the opponents, the fans' totalitarian behaviour who do not even know the word " fair- play", the yelling and screaming when trying to confuse the opposing players in the attempt to score with a penalty, the spectators' malice against the opponents, all this is largely absent at the Olympic team ball game events, even though the biased spectators are becoming more and more dominant. The spectators at the Olympic fencing tournament consist to a large extent of experts, and in this sport fair competition is in the focus. RightA Chinese spectator shows her colours Below right German handball fans in downtown Beijing during last year's Games