Sport as a Form of Soft Power

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From the ancient Olympic Truce to the exclusion of Apartheid South Africa from international competition, sport has taken an indispensable part in international affairs and diplomacy in the long course of history. In today’s world, modern information technology is spreading information fast and widely to billions of people in a few seconds. With the improvement of living standards, more and more people pay more attention to sport events not only because of their health but also because of their nation’s prestige. In more recent years, it is clear that lots of states, developed countries and developing countries, discover the potential positive impact of sport on the nation’s image and prestige. Sport, as tool of soft power, is now used both internationally and domestically. The term ‘sport power’ was first developed in the 1990s by Joseph Nye, a Service Professor at Harvard University. He encapsulates soft power as a kind of ability to reach a desired outcome through attraction rather than the use of coercion and payments (Nye, ). Soft power can be achieved from the attractiveness of arts, culture, political ideals, and policies (Nye, ). It is easy to see how sport fits into this context. Sport itself has elements of culture, arts and policies. The suit an athlete wears is a kind of culture of his or her nation. The Olympic rings are arts, symbolising a spirit of unity. Every country has its own particular sport policy. As a practice that can be both competitive and inclusive, sport can help establish dialogue and mutual understanding in an arena where there is only a game to be lost. The following discussions concern the use of sport as a tool of soft power to foster international relations from the aspects of cultural exchange and emancipation and explore the limitations of sport. Sport as a means of cultural exchange, diplomacy and peace promotion The oldest

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