It appears that rarely before has there been a more opportune time to consider the full extent of the interplay of race, ethnicity and sport in the modern world. Such issues associated with sport and ethnic/nationalist rapprochement since the end of the Sri Lankan Civil War, ethnic/nationalist conflict in Tibet in the lead-up to the Beijing Games, the IOC’s apparent impotency over human rights and the question of Pacific Islanders having their own team at the 2011 Rugby World Cup foreground questions of ethnic identity and the critical role of sport in this regard. And if the proliferation of books, conference papers and peer-reviewed articles on sport, race and ethnicity is taken as a reasonable proxy, then we can safely say that there has also been a concomitant sea change in the academy’s view of, and approach to, the interplay between sport, race and ethnicity. This special issue reports from the fourth international conference on sport, race and ethnicity that was held at the Belfast campus of the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, in June 2012. Readers will find here a stimulating array of papers that capture varied aspects of the sport, race and ethnicity nexus around the world. The journey takes us as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ghana and the USA and, in so doing, we draw on a range of disciplinary approaches that converge or diverge by degrees. Such diversity is to be welcomed in an academic field characterized less by uniformity and more by the potential richness of people’s experiences of sport, race and ethnicity within various cultural contexts. Included here are papers from a range of disciplines and approaches including sociology, politics, sports feminisms, critical race theory, a strengths perspective, Kaupapa Ma ̄ori Theory, history and sports development.