“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 create hope where once there was only despair.”– Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa
“The reason behind … growth in [the] practice of sports diplomacy is simple: sport, like music or art, is a universal language that transcends division.”– Dr. Stuart Murray, Sports Diplomacy Expert
“There is nothing like sport to open doors.”– Professor Grant Jarvie, Chair of Sport at the University of Edinburgh
Sports Diplomacy is a new term that describes an old practice: the strategic use of sport to bring people, nations, and institutions closer together via a shared love of physical pursuits. State and non-state actors, as well as sportspeople, use Sports Diplomacy to build relationships, amplify social, political, and economic messages, and advance strategic policy or business objectives. Sports Diplomacy complements traditional diplomacy strategy, raises cultural awareness between states and strengthens international relations on and off the field of play.
The practice of using sport to improve relationships between humans dates back tens of thousands of years. The First Australians used sport as a form of conflict resolution, as did the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and the Romans. We still use Sports Diplomacy today to try to solve the world’s problems, however, the modern process involves strategy, commerce, best practice, academic research and — most importantly — results.
Governments, businesses, sportspeople, and other organisations are attracted to sport as a diplomatic tool for several reasons: