HomeSports 2.0KreedOn Case StudySports Diplomacy | Role of sports in Indias foreign relations?
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Sports Diplomacy | Role of sports in Indias foreign relations?

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Sports diplomacy and Indias foreign relations

The roots of sports, global politics & Indias foreign relations are entangled as sports is a global cultural and political institution. Nonetheless, there is a dynamic association between sports and politics, which is independent and not dominated by western nations. There is a mutual interconnection between the two. Sports is an integral part of the foreign policies of several countries across the globe and they function more appropriately under these policies. Numerous countries come together at one platform to host a sporting event and the venue of the event surges the political diplomacy of the particular nation. Sometimes it also takes the shape of economic diplomacy.

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The sportsmen play a crucial role in determining the relationship between sports and politics as they are often seen as harbingers of peace and harmony.

Sports: A mode of fellowship | The Indo-Pak Case

Cricket rivalry could boost India-Pakistan ties | KreedOn
Image Source: Getty Images

The trail of Indian sports diplomacy cannot be traced without a reference to the Indo-Pak relationship. There have been several attempts by both nations to restrain the heat through the game of cricket, which is one of the most beloved games throughout the Indian nation as well as abroad. It grabs the attention of a large audience belonging to diverse groups of religion, castes, and class, living in different parts of distinguished countries, yet sports encompass the power to unite them. Thus some events are unavoidable just like the Partition was an inevitable affair and still, there are deep sentiments attached with the event of India-Pakistan partition. It is not just marked as a partition of land but the division of minds and cultures.

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Both India and Pakistan have been rivals to each other and live as unknowingly as strangers but yet sports is detached from this vicious inner conflict, which enables the people to share similar interests and opinions of the game. Sports is a form of reuniting and reconciling different nations across the globe. It is evident from several games held across the world and the way different nations participate in the event.

indian olympic medal winners Neeraj Chopra KreedOn

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Indias foreign relations: India-Pakistan & the game of Cricket

Image Source: Wisden

India has a leverage over Pakistan through cricket. In the year 1999, ten thousand Pakistanis crossed over to Mohali to watch the cricket match. Besides this, the Kashmir crisis of 2002 left India and Pakistan on the brink of war but despite the existent bitterness between the two nations, a series of cricket matches was held by both the governments in 2004 to ward off tensions.

In addition, Pakistan issued 20,000 visas to Indians in 2004 for the cricket series being initiated by the two nations as it formed a medium of exploring the possibility of normalizing relations and other security negotiations. However,  the game of cricket attained a diplomatic stance after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks and further demolished the relations of India and Pakistan. But as soon as in 2011, the former President of Pakistan, Yousaf Raza Gilani was invited by Manmohan Singh, the former Prime Minister of India to attend the Cricket World Cup Semi Finals between South Asian rivals being held at Mohali after which, pakistan allowed the Indian Team to investigate the 26/11 terrorist outrage.

The sporting relationship of India and Pakistan is the best example of fellowship, which is sometimes restrained by the sceptical nature of Pakistan. Yet the two countries are undisturbed by the diplomacy that surrounds them. The quibble in between the governments leads to grave consequences for the athletes as well as the audience. Eventually, Sports establishes a mutual association which helps in resolving gigantic political issues as well.

History of Indian sports diplomacy

Image Source: TOI

India is not an exception and likewise has been inclined to sports diplomacy since the time of the first prime minister, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. India plays a significant role in sports diplomacy to settle various disputes and avoid wars. Many recent sports events have brought India into the limelight over a period of time.

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The contemporary world witnessed Cricket World Cup, Hockey World Cup, Formula one racing, U17 Fifa World Cup, MotoGP Championship. And foremost important 2010 Commonwealth Games which was a major turning point in the Indian sports history. Nonetheless, sports has been a political tool for India since independence. The youth of the country was in the spotlight to achieve glory and honor for the nation.


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Indias foreign relations: The advent of IPL

Indias foreign relations | KreedOn
Image Source: DNA India

Cricket is the strength of Indian sports and cricket diplomacy played a crucial role in the political history of South Asia. There was a significant rise in the Indian economy after the creation of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008 as it was a major source of representing India’s soft power. The IPL was held in South Africa in 2009 and later in the United Arab Emirates in 2014.

Indias foreign relations: Indo-Afgan Case

Indias foreign relations | India & Afghanistan cricket | KreedOn
Image Source: Sports360

Indian sports has virtuous relations with other countries. It is evident from the generosity of the Indian nation towards other nations. In addition, BCCI provided access to Shahid Vijay Singh Pathik Sports complex at Greater Noida and Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket stadium at Dehradun as home grounds for the Afghanistan Cricket team. As a means of showcasing their soft power diplomacy with Afghanistan. It also helped to boost the relations of the two nations.

Indias foreign relations: Indo-Sri Lanka Case

Indias foreign relations | India & sri lanka cricket | KreedOn
Image Source: India TV news

India also tried to negotiate and improve its relations with Sri Lanka by venturing numerous cricket tours to the island nation. Not one but several other measures are taken by the Indian government to empower their international relations. 

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Sports events, diplomacy & Indias foreign relations

Indias foreign relations | KreedOn
Image Source: E International Relations

In modern international politics, cooperation plays a vital role in not merely strengthening alliances but also the existence of one nation. Similarly, sports play a salient role in the world of diplomacy and it surpasses linguistic, socio-political, cultural, and cross-border differences. Over the last few decades, several countries across the globe have embedded the strategy of organizing sports events. It is an integral part of strengthening relations with other nations. It is a way of sharing ideas, common interests, and cultures among the people of different nations. Along with establishing dialogues and exchanges that are beneficial for the country’s relations with one another. It is not surprising that diplomacy has found its way into the sphere of sports as well. And thereby the sporting diplomacy uses the universal sporting passion as a way to eliminate socio-cultural differences and unite people.

More recently, several events can be taken into consideration to understand the role of sports diplomacy. Countries across the world organize mega sports events to surge their reputation. To showcase international prestige to attain soft power, and establish a sense of superiority in the world. Sports is thereby an ever-emerging industry that is growing in terms of number of sports, participating states, variety of events, and number of participants. As well as in terms of fans, spectators, and sponsors, who play an important role in international economics. 

How sports can change the world?

Indias foreign relations | KreedOn
Image Source: PARADIGM Sports

Sports have the power to change and inspire people worldwide along with transitioning the world itself. It enables different nations to unite at one platform and emphasizes on the aspect of unity and integrity among the people. It enlightens hope for people being underestimated and the ones deprived of resources and knowledge. Sports also serves as a medium to achieve foreign policy objectives. The exchange and intermixing of sports, politics, and diplomacy are a part of the milieu of international relations. Moreover, sports proposes an agenda in diplomatic associations and agreements, through which diplomatic relations of a nation are promoted. The sporting events held across the world are also a part of diplomacy and political discussions. Over time, India has established several relations across the globe through sports. It shares a special relationship with the countries worldwide. 

Indias foreign relations: The dynamic aftermath

New heights were being achieved by India in the domain of sports politics after organizing huge sports events. India is progressing towards building and empowering as a sports nation. It is ready to leave its footprints in the International arena of sports by taking initiatives to promote and cultivate games by launching government schemes like Khelo India & TOPS schemes.

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Ayushi Bhatti
Ayushi Bhatti
I am Ayushi Bhatti, a graduate of B.A. English Honours from St. Stephens College, University of Delhi. Currently, I am pursuing M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from Sharda University. Over the years, I have attained proficiency in the English language through my consistent hard work and efficient writing skills. I have formerly written content for several prestigious platforms and some of them are NDTV Lifestyle Swirlster, LernEzy, Yhills, Kreedon, Zee Media. I have also been doing freelance writing besides writing articles, blogs, advertisements for campaigns, and website content. I possess the capability to write insightful and lucid content to bewitch my readers.


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