Master's Theses

Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Department

International Relations

First Advisor

Jean Krasno

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Kucik

Keywords

Sports, Diplomacy, Sports diplomacy

Abstract

This thesis will serve to demonstrate sports diplomacy as a legitimate field of study in international relations. In this thesis, I will argue that the practice of sports diplomacy has provided countries with relative contentious relationships, with a ‘soft entry’ to a potential restoration of their diplomatic relations. As a fairly new study field, sports diplomacy has received its fair amount of criticism as to whether diplomacy and sports should mix. It is important to note that this criticism is not unfounded or unwarranted and that this field in particular does have its limitations and restrictions. There’s definitely an argument to make that sports in its most competitive form seem counterintuitive to what diplomacy stands for. However, and with this thesis, I will attempt to dispel this notion and highlight, through examples, that sports diplomacy can produce tangible results when the appropriate environment is created and nurtured. With factors that range from an adequate political environment to a strong leadership in the countries involved, sports diplomacy has proven to have the capacity of breaking diplomatic standoffs.

In this thesis, I will highlight four different areas where sports diplomacy has had a significant and successful impact in the improvement of relationships both in the domestic and in the international realm. The four areas are image building with Brazil and Russia hosting the Olympics Games and the FIFA World Cup respectively; as a platform for dialogue with the examples of the Ping Pong Diplomacy and the Cricket Diplomacy; as a tool for integration and reconciliation with the role of the 1995 Rugby World Cup and South Africa; and as an instrument of social inclusion and peace-building where sports, through its values of respect, discipline and team work, are used to attract disenfranchised youths to learn not only a sport per se but to gain important life skills while interacting closely with youths of different cultures and bring them together in their love of the game.

 
 

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