EYA Lecture Hall: Sport as a Tool of Public Diplomacy

25/08/2020 18:06

On August 12, an educational seminar on “Sports Diplomacy” was held as part of the project “EYA Lecture Hall” (EYA – Eurasian Youth Assembly). On the International Youth Day, young people of the continent had an online metting with athletes from Eurasia and leading experts in the sports industry.

The event was attended by Diana Al-Shaer, master of sports, member of the General Council of the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly, co-Chair of the Coordination Council of the Eurasian Youth Assembly, adviser on international relations of the Palestinian Equestrian Federation, and Anna Subbotina, adviser to the Executive Director of the Russian Union of Martial Arts on international issues.

Experts told the participants of the online meeting about the role of sports in the lives of young people, the impact of sports events on the development of international relations, sports management and opportunities to participate in the organization and conduct of major sports events as organizers, participants and volunteers.

Diana al-Shaer came to sports diplomacy through sports, representing Russia and then Palestine in international equestrian competitions. According to the expert, speaking about sports diplomacy, it is necessary to pay attention to such aspects as the humanitarian mission of sports and the impact of the sports component on the country's image. Today, major sports organizations, including the international Equestrian Federation, are implementing a number of projects aimed at providing humanitarian assistance and financial support to developing countries in cooperation with UN agencies.

“If we look at the history of major international events, we will see that sport has been a very effective tool of public diplomacy for many years. Sport, first of all, has a creative function. The greatest strength of sport is that it unites a large number of people regardless of nationality, religion or other aspects. Sport is a great tool for public diplomacy. In the history of international relations, there are cases when countries were able to stabilize their relations thanks to sports,” - said Diana al-Shaer.

In the XXI century, the term sports diplomacy has become increasingly used, and many educational institutions in Eurasia have specialized programs and faculties of sports management. At the same time, in a number of European countries, for example, in Germany and France, funds are allocated annually at the state level for the development of projects in the field of sports diplomacy. However, this trend is quite justified, because sport has a huge impact on public opinion. According to recent research, the country's sporting success is becoming one of the determining factors of its image on the international stage. Holding a large-scale sports event is an opportunity to show your best side.

According to Anna Subbotina, the country's regions play a key role in the development of sports diplomacy in Russia. For example, major events are often held in Kazan, Krasnoyarsk, and Vladivostok. At the same time, today sports events are becoming strategically important platforms for positioning the region's potential, developing a dialogue between representatives of different countries, and strengthening interstate ties and business contacts. Cultural events and informal meetings have become an integral part of sporting events.

“In 2014, Vladivostok hosted the Eastern Economic Forum and the Russian Martial Arts Union had the honour to participate in the organization of the cultural program. Sports diplomacy is multi-faceted, and professional development requires knowledge of management, Protocol, history, and politics, as well as qualities such as sociability, openness, and, of course, loves for their work. My path to the world of sports began with participation as a volunteer in the organization of one of the major sports forums “Russia is a Sports Power”. I want to mention the incredible experience and emotions this practice gave me. My volunteer work made it clear that I want to continue working in the sports industry,” - said Anna Subbotina.

At the end of the roundtable meeting, the experts wished the young specialists creative and professional success in their chosen specialty and agreed to meet again.

The Eurasian Youth Assembly unites young people from the countries of the continent through public diplomacy. Students, leaders of public organizations and active young people can become part of the EYA Youth Asset and contribute to the implementation of international projects in the field of sports, culture, education and science.