Lecture papers

Sports Diplomacy as a Tool of Promoting States’ International Image

20 Oct 2023

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IBAN: 978-9948-776-73-4

AED 10

Sport has increasingly been used by states to improve their international image. Alongside the popularization of modern sport in the early 20th century, governments began to utilize the popularity that sport generated to acquire international prestige, increase their international visibility, or send particular messages about their country to the international public. Such use of sport was developing rapidly in the 1930s when non-democratic regimes of Italy and Germany attached propaganda significance to the sports events they hosted - FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games - and moved into an even higher level during the Cold War when the ideological rivalry between two superpowers was also waged on the sports arenas. Post-Cold War reality changed little in this approach to sport, which is still excessively used by states to foster the realization of their national interests, including the objective to improve the way they are perceived by the international public.

The aim of the paper is to review the key methods and means of using sports to improve the international image of states. The paper will also discuss the possible implications of such use of sports, including the potential negative effects of employing sports to enhance the state's external perception. The paper begins with a review of key theoretical concepts and approaches, focusing on the interconnection between sport and soft power and the concept of sports diplomacy with its multiple meanings. It then moves to the review of the most typical of employing sports for the sake of improving the international image of states and concludes with a discussion of the effectiveness of such utilization of sports and its possible drawbacks.