Saturday, October 21, 2017

Andrew Hunter on the Diplomatic Power of Sport

image from

This year Port Adelaide and the Gold Coast Suns made history by playing the first Australian Football League match in Shanghai, China. ACYA [JB - see]’s Cormac Power spoke with Andrew Hunter [JB- see also], Port Adelaide’s China Manager, about the power of sports diplomacy.

ACYA: How do you think government can better facilitate cultural exchange through sport? Are we doing enough?

Andrew: I don’t think we are doing enough in terms of cultural diplomacy or sports diplomacy. A part of the issue is that we need an understanding from governments that that sport can play a real role and I think that might take some time to develop. In Australia there is a very strong economistic approach to foreign policy. They see this sense of economic diplomacy and how we can use foreign policy to further our economic interests. The Sports Diplomacy Strategy 2015-2018 in some ways reflects that; we are looking at how we can use sport to achieve commercial outcomes. Diplomacy for me is broader than that and perhaps we can let the commerce take care of itself once we’ve developed a stronger intercultural understanding and trust between the peoples as a foundation for other endeavours and exchanges, including trade and investment.

I think the first step is a greater understanding of sport’s potential. Government funding and support always helps, and we need more funding for cultural and sports diplomacy. Australia, compared to other countries, generally underfunds these areas. European countries, Japan and China have vast sums of money that they devote to public diplomacy, including cultural diplomacy, which is generally considers as a sub-set. But probably on both sides, the greatest impediment is that this fascination with public diplomacy, which is very unidirectional at the moment, is all about the projection of culture and greater affection on the other side. It doesn’t really speak of a two-way and a genuine exchange. There needs to be a fundamental shift in thinking that foreign policy is more than economic policy. Whilst you always want other countries to think well and understand you, perhaps the best way of going about it is to first try to develop a greater understanding and affection of the other countries as well.

The idea of reciprocity should be central to foreign policy, areas such as public diplomacy, sports diplomacy, and cultural diplomacy. These foreign policy areas should have a stronger focus on beneficial outcomes. From that point we can build a stronger foundation for more accessible relationships between the people of both countries. ...

No comments: