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HAS SPORT AND DIPLOMACY MIX?

by on May 6, 2014

In the last two or three decades, sports have played an important role restoring diplomatic relations worldwide. It has gradually drowned people’s attention and has become the power to inspire people’s relations and nations that are divided by political differences. By introducing sports as a mechanism to improve international relations, sports and public diplomacy have  been closely linked. For instance, western countries have introduced public relations through sports to approach nations that have different political views. China and western states have developed closer contemporary relations as the number of international competitions and participants have increased. In other words, by promoting sports internationally, Chinese diplomacy towards the west has reflected an important political development; progress of diplomatic relations, and innovation of diplomatic practices. The development of further public diplomacy through sport will perhaps help to reduce a negative understanding of China’s relations and promote international reputation.

China’s Siling Yi has claimed the first gold medal of London 2012

Untitled
http://sport.uk.msn.com/olympics-2012/news/chinese-shooter-lands-first-gold

Diplomacy through sports has gained an important reputation as most nations participate unanimously. According to Nelson Mandela, “ Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair. Sport speaks to people in a language they can understand.”

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, also states, “Sport is a language everyone of us can speak.” “Its as a tool in a country’s public diplomacy arsenal is being increasingly recognised. Mixing sport and diplomacy can help meet various foreign policy objectives: to bring about regime change, open the door for dialogue when it is closed to politics and to arouse a sense of national pride. This mixture however, is by no means “new.”
Competition events such as the Olympic games and the World Cup are some of the most-watched events across the world. One of the most recent events of this trend was the Sochi Winter Olympics Games, in which Georgia has taken an important step forward to join the Russian Olympic Games in an attempt to restore relations between both countries.
Although protesters tried to impede Georgian’s participation in Sochi, Prime minster Irakli Garibashvili announced that “Georgia made a decision in favour of national sport” and that “Participation in the Sochi Olympics evokes a special emotion for us, as the games are held at the Georgian-Russian border, near the occupied Abkhazia.” Prime minster Garibashvili added that the decision to take part in the Olympics was not easy, but it was taken in favour of Georgian’s sport, the athletes and the public interest.

Georgian’s decision to re-establish relations through participating in the games in Sochi was considered to be an important opportunity to restart diplomatic relations with Russia. NATO and the European Union welcomed Georgian’s initiative to give its first step to make its athletes the ambassadors to rebuild Georgian-Russia relations, considering sport an opportunity to go beyond politics. Gela Vasadze, a Georgian political scientist stated in an interview with AzerNews that prime minister Garbashvili is using sport as soft power to restore relation with Russia and that sport, culture and the economy should go beyond politics.

International competitions today have become a powerful tool to influence politicians to restore diplomatic relations between countries. Professional sports have turned into a global force, a common language that everyone understands, regardless of their nationality. In fact, spots and public diplomacy travels together through space and time, and have made relations more flexible and easier to handle.

SOURCES

http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTOTAL-WJXY200503017.htm.
[Accessed on 03/04/14]

http://www.azernews.az/analysis/64107.html
[Accessed on 04/04/14]

http://www.exchangediplomacy.com/the-power-of-sport-should-sport-and-diplomacy-mix
[Accessed] on 05/04/14]

http://youtu.be/nk0Qoij0Ir8 %5BAccessed on 05/04/14]

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9157.html
[Accessed on 06/04/14]

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