Kampala Geopolitics Conference

Sports and The Olympics and Paralympics, a Major Geopolitical Soft Power Tool

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The well-known Olympic Games in the summer of 1936 were a striking example of how sport can be an important vector of influence and crystallise tensions between countries. Throughout history, there is no shortage of examples of Olympic Games that have clearly reflected a certain political model, certain ambitions, certain ties between states like the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, to name but one. These major sporting events are gatherings where the image of the state, its showcase, is at stake.

In 2021, Japan hosted the international gathering during the time of the pandemic. In 2024, it will be the turn of France. Host countries of the games understood the stakes of sports diplomacy and thus equipped themselves with action plans and significant resources, particularly within their diplomatic network abroad. Promoting the country through the quality of its athletes, promoting transversal values around sport, as well as gender equality and disabilities, asserting themselves as decision-making bodies in the field: these are strategies that both justify and reinforce the organisation of the Games.

Let’s take a moment to take a closer look at the organisation of such major events, at the crossroads of diplomacy of influence and economy, through tourism notably. How are the Olympic Games used as a geopolitical tool for influence, crystallizing major political and economic models and relationships? What mechanisms do host countries put in place to magnify their profile internationally through the Games?

Meet the Panelists