by The 5P Foundation

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Sport has played a significant role in international politics for many years, spanning across the two World Wars and the Cold War. Sport back then was still influenced by the political agendas of the rulers. It’s common for these political interests to result in acts of violence. Hosting international sporting events, in addition to the Olympics, plays a crucial role in shaping international relations. This is further amplified by the widespread availability of media and technology, enabling global audiences to watch these events in real-time. Using sporting events as a platform can help foster peace and create mutual understanding between nations, serving as an alternative diplomatic tool.

The utilization of soft power is seen as more effective in the changing global landscape, as it allows a country to achieve its goals with other nations through peaceful methods, as stated by Nye (2008). Riordan (2003) argues that the rise of public diplomacy has elevated the significance of the public in shaping state policies, as the state requires solid support from the public to make decisions. Public diplomacy goes beyond hard politics and encompasses soft politics, like cultural elements, and has started to explore sports as a tool in diplomacy.

Aside from symbolizing diplomatic actions by the government, such as a public relations campaign to encourage peace and foster mutual understanding between nations, it serves as an additional tool in diplomacy. At present, all developed and developing countries are engaging in sports diplomacy to showcase their nations globally using their athletes’ successes and to endorse sportsmanship and peace in sporting events. Sports diplomacy can be defined as using sports tools in diplomatic efforts. Moreover, Steve Jones explained that sports diplomacy can be seen as an attempt to connect nations and cultures by using sports as a medium (Jones, n.d). Sport is a valuable tool in international relations with positive aspects that can be effectively utilized (Murray, 2013: 2).

At the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, Indonesia showcased its ability to host a successful mega sport event and highlight its culture and tourism. Additionally, South Korea and North Korea used the event to demonstrate unity in various sports. So, South Korea and North Korea are essentially showing the world that their diplomatic efforts will indeed lead to peace.

During the Kashmir crisis in 2002, tensions between Pakistan and India were at their highest. However, both countries made diplomatic efforts by organizing multiple Cricket matches in 2004 to reduce tensions and explore the potential for improving relations and establishing reliable communication (Murray & Pigman, 2014: 4). Cricket has been utilized to ease tensions and as a tool of diplomacy between Pakistan and India. In 2011, Prime Minister Gilani of Pakistan accepted an invitation from the Indian government to attend a semi-final cricket match between the two countries in Mohali, India. The invitation aimed to improve relations that had become tense after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008 (Murray & Pigman, 2014).

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