The 2023 Australia-UK Sports Diplomacy Dialogue | The Return Leg

Games between Australia and the UK have always held significant importance in their respective cultures, societies, and values. The sports played by these nations not only create fierce competition but also foster enduring friendships between the two countries. While the sporting ties between the United Kingdom (UK) and Australia have a long history, the AUK Dialogue Series represents a new chapter in their bilateral relationship, offering an opportunity for innovation and value creation.

Professor Sarah Kelly O.A.M., Gavin Price and Professor Grant Jarvie

The primary goals of the AUK Dialogue Series held in Edinburgh were to showcase diverse perspectives on the interaction between sport, diplomacy, and intercultural relations. It aimed to expand the knowledge, experiences, and capacity of both Australia and the UK in sports diplomacy by creating new partnerships, exploring new ideas, and delving into a comprehensive understanding of the sports diplomacy relationship between the two nations. Additionally, the series aimed to generate the first systematic report on Sports Diplomacy in a bilateral relationship, which is currently under review for publication in an internationally recognized journal.

Another significant objective of the AUK Dialogue Series was to develop a bilateral Sports Diplomacy model that could be applied to the UK and Australia’s other key strategic relationships with countries like India, the US, Japan, France, and China. By doing so, the reputation of both Australia and the UK as connected, trusted, and culturally innovative nations would be amplified, showcasing their ability to learn from and share with each other.

Session 1 and the Sport for Development panel
Session 1 and the Sport for Development panel


The 2023 Dialogue of the AUK Series reflected positively on the shared sporting history between Australia and the UK. The findings emphasized the importance of celebrating the diversity of their shared “Sportscape” and intentionally utilizing the soft power of sports to enhance diplomatic, business, trade, community, and people-to-people relations.

The Return Leg of the AUK Dialogue Series further energized and expanded the networks surrounding sporting opportunities, competitions, and partnerships between Australia and the UK. It attracted high-profile participants and engaged peak bodies and networks globally. This event built upon the success of the Brisbane 2022 Dialogue, offering a fresh perspective on the role that sports play in the AUK relationship and setting the stage for future engagements.

Overall, the AUK Dialogue Series served as a platform to explore and leverage the power of sports diplomacy between Australia and the UK. It aimed to strengthen their relationship, create new opportunities, and establish sports diplomacy as a classified profession within the governments of both countries. By recognizing the value of sports in diplomacy, the series aimed to enhance bilateral ties and contribute to the growth and development of both nations.