Diplomatic Games

Diplomatic Games: Sport, Statecraft, and International Relations since 1945

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 496
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  • Book Info
    Diplomatic Games
    Book Description:

    International sporting events, including the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup, have experienced profound growth in popularity and significance since the mid-twentieth century. Sports often facilitate diplomacy, revealing common interests across borders and uniting groups of people who are otherwise divided by history, ethnicity, or politics. In many countries, popular athletes have become diplomatic envoys. Sport is an arena in which international conflict and compromise find expression, yet the impact of sports on foreign relations has not been widely studied by scholars.

    In Diplomatic Games, a team of international scholars examines how the nexus of sport and foreign relations has driven political and cultural change since 1945, demonstrating how governments have used athletic competition to maintain and strengthen alliances, promote policies, and increase national prestige. The contributors investigate topics such as China's use of sports to oppose Western imperialism, the ways in which sports helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, and the impact of the United States' 1980 Olympic boycott on U.S.-Soviet relations. Bringing together innovative scholarship from around the globe, this groundbreaking collection makes a compelling case for the use of sport as a lens through which to view international relations.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4565-5
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction. Competing in the Global Arena: Sport and Foreign Relations since 1945
    (pp. 1-16)
    Andrew L. Johns

    In late February 2013, former NBA star Dennis Rod-man visited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in what several media outlets characterized as a “basketball diplomacy” mission aimed at encouraging “openness and better relations with the outside world.” Rod-man, whose antics both on and off the court overshadowed his prodigious skill as one of the best rebounders and defenders in NBA history, seems like an odd choice to be a diplomatic emissary—an unofficial one, to be sure—of the United states to north Korea. His unique public persona aside, his visit occurred only weeks after the pyongyang regime...

  4. Part 1. Alliance Politics
    • 1 “A Game of Political Ice Hockey”: NATO Restrictions on East German Sport Travel in the Aftermath of the Berlin Wall
      (pp. 19-52)
      Heather L. Dichter

      The creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949 was designed to keep the United States involved in European affairs, both to prevent a return to the American isolationism that developed after world war I and to serve as a bulwark against the increasing soviet influence in Europe as the iron Curtain of the Cold War cut right through Germany. In the spring of 1954, when the Soviet Union granted sovereignty to the German Democratic republic (GDR), the three western wartime allies—Great britain, france, and the United states—reaffirmed their support of the federal republic of Germany...

    • 2 Steadfast Friendship and Brotherly Help: The Distinctive soviet–East German Sport Relationship within the Socialist Bloc
      (pp. 53-84)
      Evelyn Mertin

      The bipolar power structure of the Cold War suggests clearly delineated concepts of friends and foes both within and between both blocs. This model of international politics also transferred over to the sport relationships of the involved nations, inevitably having an impact on the international sport movement. For communist propaganda planners, successful results and shining medals gained by any athlete east of the iron curtain contributed to the accomplishment of communist sport. The image of friendly and supportive sport relationships among communist countries was created for the public, but these concepts nonetheless remained politically induced and restrictive. By analyzing the...

    • 3 Welcoming the “Third World”: Soviet Sport Diplomacy, Developing Nations, and the Olympic Games
      (pp. 85-114)
      Jenifer Parks

      In a 1959 article on sport exchanges titled “Za Druzhbu!” (to friendship!), the vice president of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of the USSR, Mikhail Pesliak, announced the first soviet sports delegation to Africa. Ukrainian soccer players had traveled to Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, becoming in pesliak’s words the “first explorers in our [soviet] sports journey into the depths of Africa, to countries who have great sympathy for the soviet Union.”¹ From the Soviet Union’s entrance into the Olympic Games in 1952, sport became a key facet of soviet foreign relations. High-profile, international meets provided an opportunity for the Soviet...

  5. Part 2. The Decolonizing World
    • 4 Forging Africa-Caribbean Solidarity within the Commonwealth? Sport and Diplomacy during the Anti-apartheid Campaign
      (pp. 117-150)
      Aviston D. Downes

      The impact of the international anti-apartheid sports campaign on West Indies cricket is a theme that has attracted some attention within a celebratory nationalist framework.¹ The subject has also attracted modest attention by other historians and political scientists interested in the wider international political and diplomatic dimensions of this subject.² marc Keech and barrie Houlihan have identified sport as a potential bridge builder between erstwhile estranged nations or, alternatively, a vehicle through which to register disapproval against a state and its governing ideology.³ They have labeled this latter expression of sport “negative sport diplomacy.” Houlihan has also argued that “international...

    • 5 Peronism, International Sport, and Diplomacy
      (pp. 151-182)
      Cesar R. Torres

      On June 4, 1943, a nationalist coup d’état overthrew the weak and corrupt government of ramón Castillo, ending the decade of oligarchic rule that had begun with the first coup d’état in the history of Argentina in 1930. Then col. Juan Domingo perón became a prominent official in the new military government while rallying strong support from labor leaders and the working class. In early October 1945, the army, pressured by political parties and public opinion to hold free elections and distrustful of perón’s political rise, forced him to resign. Days later, on October 17, 1945, with perón in prison,...

    • 6 A More Flexible Domination: Franco-african Sport Diplomacy During Decolonization, 1945–1966
      (pp. 183-214)
      Pascal Charitas

      The global upheaval caused by World War II called into question the continuation of colonial domination. Indeed, the progressive liberation of populations oppressed by colonialism and the resulting advent of the Third world were supported by the two superpowers of the cold war, the United states and the Soviet Union. at both the Yalta conference in February 1945 and the Potsdam conference in July 1945, the victorious powers reorganized the frontiers of Europe and provided for democratic elections in the liberated countries. The creation of the United Nations (UN) in June 1945 in San Francisco—which represented the realization of...

  6. Part 3. East-West Rivalries
    • 7 The Cold War Games of a Colonial Latin American Nation: San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1966
      (pp. 217-250)
      Antonio Sotomayor

      As an “unincorporated territory” of the United States yet as part of Latin America and the Caribbean, Puerto Rico presents multiple problems for academic study in areas that include nationalism, colonial/Postcolonial studies, democracy/imperialism, and, of course, the politics of Olympism. Puerto Rico’s balancing act of belonging to, but not being part of, both the United States and Latin America permeates the often Conflictive politics of the region. yet puerto rico, like the Caribbean in general—except Cuba—has been kept at the fringes of world political attention and hence also from significant academic study. This chapter will demonstrate the pivotal...

    • 8 “Our Way of Life against Theirs”: Ice Hockey and the Cold War
      (pp. 251-296)
      John Soares

      By March 1968, Canadians were sick of losing international hockey competitions to the Soviet Union. Hockey was their national game; even the Russians recognized Canada as “the homeland of hockey.”¹ But the USSR had started a streak of world championships in 1963 that was unmatched since the international ice Hockey federation (IIHF) began holding annual tournaments in 1930.² Olympic hockey doubled as the world tournament in Olympic years, and the soviet gold medal in the winter Games at Grenoble the previous month had increased its streak to five straight world titles.³ Not only were the Canadians losing to the soviets...

    • 9 “Fuzz Kids” and “Musclemen”: The US-Soviet Basketball Rivalry, 1958–1975
      (pp. 297-326)
      Kevin B. Witherspoon

      The 1972 Olympic basketball gold-medal game is widely considered one of the most memorable—and from the American perspective, notorious—sporting events ever played. The American team, undefeated in Olympic play up to that point and heavily favored in the game, lost to the Soviets, 51–50. Of course, the one-point defeat is only a small part of the story, as it came after an extremely controversial sequence of events in which the final three seconds were played three times, with the Soviets scoring the winning basket only on their third try. Players and coaches from the US team were...

    • 10 The White House Games: The Carter Administration’s Efforts To Establish an Alternative to the Olympics
      (pp. 327-358)
      Nicholas Evan Sarantakes

      The Greeks of antiquity invented both international relations and international sport. Despite this shared origin, scholars have rarely studied sport and international affairs in conjunction with one another. The modern Olympics are a natural venue for scholars of international affairs interested in sport. Founded—or, more accurately, “reestablished”—in the nineteenth century, the Olympic movement has proven quite resilient, having survived two world wars and the cold war. Many politicians of extremely different political tints have attempted to bend the movement to their needs and interests, none more so than Jimmy carter. In 1980 the United states initiated what for...

  7. Part 4. Sport as Public Diplomacy
    • 11 Reclaiming the Slopes: Sport and Tourism in Postwar Austria
      (pp. 361-384)
      Wanda Ellen Wakefield

      Although the task of fighting and defeating the war machines of Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire was daunting for the United states, the struggle to ensure postwar peace and prosperity proved to be a significant challenge as well. when the war ended, both Germany and Japan lay in ruins, and much of the rest of Europe had been devastated by long years of combat. although US authorities might have wished to quickly end the occupations of the conquered countries and bring the troops back home (something that the soldiers and sailors themselves certainly desired), postwar exigencies required a commitment...

    • 12 Politics First, Competition Second: Sport and China’s Foreign Diplomacy in the 1960s and 1970s
      (pp. 385-408)
      Fan Hong and Lu Zhouxiang

      Sport is not only a major form of human interaction but also one of the central ways in which a society reflects its ideology and identity, as well as its place in international politics and relations. This is particularly true in China, where sport has played an important role in the country’s political and diplomatic strategy since the early twentieth century. Sport was seen by politicians as one of the most suitable vehicles for political diplomacy. It helped, for instance, to strengthen relationships with nations of the nonaligned movement (NAM) and to establish the leadership of the people’s republic of...

    • 13 Reds, Revolutionaries, and Racists: Surfing, Travel, and Diplomacy in the Reagan Era
      (pp. 409-430)
      Scott Laderman

      Paul Holmes had a dream. it was the early 1980s, and Ronald Reagan was president, the Soviet Union was the Evil Empire, and the American loss in Vietnam was less than a decade old. Holmes was a British-born surfer living in the United States. Like most surfers, he fantasized about a terra incognita of perfect, unridden waves. Unlike most surfers, he was uniquely positioned to find it. Holmes was, after all, the editor of California basedSurfermagazine. Occupying the most exalted perch in American surf journalism gave him resources unavailable to others. When Holmes perused a map to scout...

  8. Conclusion. Fields of Dreams and Diplomacy
    (pp. 431-446)
    Thomas W. Zeiler

    Scholars and almost all commentators, save for an unsophisticated crowd of sport addicts and die-hard fans, have long acknowledged that athletics are not just fun and games. As these essays show, sport is situated far from that realm of child’s play and spectator interest. For a while now, studies in the wide-ranging field of professional and amateur, adult and youth, and team and individual athletics have revealed that the history of all sports is deeply embedded in politics, society, and culture. Sport is closely aligned to business and profits, organizations, culture, and media. They are fertile ground for study through...

  9. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 447-450)
  10. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 451-476)
  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 477-480)
  12. Index
    (pp. 481-488)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 489-490)