This article explores how terrorists acting alone or in small groups have used sports events as symbolic targets in their performance of terrorism.
Drawing on a comparative analysis of the attacks on the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and the 2013 Boston Marathon, it is argued that terrorist target selection of major sports events should be understood in relation to the grievances and desires of the perpetrators. The article finds that rather than being the primary target of their attacks, sports events are among a broader range of densely crowded spaces that terrorist actors may seek to target as part of their violent struggle against their adversaries. The findings are contextualized in relation to broader patterns and trends in lone-wolf terrorism, including the significance of a copycat phenomenon and inspiration effect. (Publisher Abstract)