World Cup Football: Going for Goal

It is tempting to downplay the diplomatic significance of sporting mega-events such as the Olympic Games and soccer’s World Cups. Sublime sporting moments play out against a backdrop of over-commercialism, drugs, sports administrators suffering from megalomania and a strong whiff of corruption about the process of choosing host nations. What do these extravaganzas have to do with diplomacy?

The World Today
5 minute READ

Louis Turner

Hosting major sporting events has often been a key indication of a country’s acceptance as one of the core developed nations. Thus, the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo and those in Munich in 1972 saw postwar Japan and Germany accepted back into mainstream diplomatic circles.

Similarly, the 1968 games in Mexico City and in Seoul twenty years later recognised that Mexico and South Korea had been sufficiently successful on the economic front to be brought into the political inner circle.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics will likewise highlight the emergence of China. This year’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) may be of more significance to policy buffs but, to the world at large, it will be the lighting of the Olympic flame in Beijing which will demonstrate that it has truly rejoined the global mainstream.

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