Sport is the most efficient diplomat

In the past, international relations mainly focused on the high political issues such as military and economic issues. However, the nature of international politics has changed dramatically recently. Interaction between states is not limited to the high political area but also low political area such as social cultural areas.
Among these, because of its popularity across the globe, sports plays a significant role in international relations. Considering that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has 205 members states, even more the number of UN members (195). It is obvious that international sport is now an arena of international politics and diplomacy.

Worldwide sports events have great impact to international relations (IR). With the development of media, people all over the world can inform to international sports events at the same time. Thus international sports games are a good opportunity to display a state’s ethnic features or a state’s believed national superiority to their counterparts. In history, many national leaders abused sports games because of such purpose, and sports events were often used as a tool of propaganda. However, at the same time, sports possesses the aspect of promoting peace and raising mutual understanding in international relations. Many countries took advantage of this aspect of sports to build a positive image of them. The world has moved into an era of “complex interdependence”, characterized by “multiple channels” between societies, including both state and non-state channels. In this context, sports is a good medium, by playing mediating and pivotal role in inter-state relations. Attaching sports to the scope of IR would be a helpful to boost the size of diplomacy. Even the ancient Olympics had clear city state political dimensions. In resurrecting the modern Games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin had an overtly politicised “European agenda”, seeing sport as an alternative international interaction mechanism that might release tensions extant in other planes.

The three outstanding recent Olympic examples of the sport – politics and policy nexus are Berlin (1936), Munich (1976), and Moscow (1980). Hitler and his architects had the clear objective of demonstrating German power and ideology through the Games, with the first modern media angle. Munich and “Black September” were sadly, the inevitable next step, with the Games increasing visibility rendering them a potential stage for the display of wider, more serious concerns. From here, security at the Games became paramount leading to the latest huge spending in London (2012) and Sochi (2014). In 1980, a range of world governments extended that leverage differently – by staying away, protesting the Soviet Union’s Afghanistan intervention. That probably marked the effective end of futile attempts to maintain separation between “sport” and “politics”. That was an era of Olympic Boycott.

The IOC’s most assertive political voice, however has sounded in the name of international peace. The truce calls upon the cessation of all hostilities and warfare during the period of the Olympic Games. The most compelling moment of the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games came at the OPENING CEREMONY when Samaranch asked attendants and viewers worldwide to observe a moment of remembrance for the Olympic City of Sarajevo and pleaded for a cessation of fighting in the war – torn former Yugoslavia.

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