The scope of sports has changed to include many aspects today, such as commercialization, endorsement and moneymaking opportunities. However sports continue to remain closely linked to politics, it may sometimes cross over the line of being overly linked to politics. Sports diplomacy is when sports are used as a political tool to enhance (or sometime worsen) diplomatic relationship between two entitles. The nature of sports is changed when parties get too obsessive in winning the match and win glory for their country.
When politicians used sports as a platform to achieve their political aims, it defeats the purpose of sports and over-influence the purpose of sports. Also, Sports is also able to have a great impact between political relationships between countries, it becomes a two-way relationship between politics and sports, and sport is too closely connected to politics when each is able to have a direct and great impact on the other. Politics is closely linked to sports especially when countries treat playing on the field like raging a war against each other.
Nationalism and sports are often intertwined, as sports are able to bring unity to a country. Most sports are contested between national teams, which encourage the use of sporting events for nationalist purposes. For example, in the 2007 AFC Asian cup, despite ethnic factionalism in Iraq and an invasion by the American military, they won the biggest tournament in Asian football. This has brought happiness to the whole country and they celebrated in unity. When national teams win, they have a strong sense of national pride as they represented the country.
Countries are all vying for the same prestigious title and by topping the other countries it is giving the glory and shine to the country. The patriotic feelings are also observed when one’s national song and national flag is raised as it commands respect from other nations too. This runs contrary to the main important thing in sports- to participate as seen in the quote "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part…. ” by Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of Olympic games. Hence sports and politics are too closely linked when political feelings are against the ideals of sports.
Politics is too closely linked to sports when politicians of different countries use sports as a medium to convey political messages. There are many variations in political leaders as observed so far, this is especially seen in international competitions where many focus are on it and countries are able to bring attention to issues easily. For example in 1968, the global stage of the Olympics was used to show the world the plight of the African- American struggle during the civil rights movement in their home country.
Also, in 1980, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan led to a boycott of the Moscow games by many Westerners in protest of Russian actions. The politics of cold war was brought into sports in this case. Some countries took the opportunity to express their unhappiness with each other, while some other countries hope to gain something from sports. With political agendas for playing in sports, the purpose of enjoying the game becomes insignificant and unimportant. Hence when sports took on a political dimension, it’s main purpose and sports fundamental principles and ideals are changed.
Countries relationships are also affected by sports either in a good or bad way; it becomes a two-way connection between sports and politics. It is able to increase tensions between countries or it is able to improve relations and cooperation. For example, the joint organization of the 2002 World Cup by Japan and South Korea helped accelerate bilateral reconciliation. This is because there is interaction to get things done. On the other hand relationships worsen when nationals from each countries attacked each other and insulted each country’s flag or anthem.
This aggravated strong emotions such as unhappiness that caused politicians to be constrained by what’s happening at home, and to take limited steps in seeking resolutions due to the importance to maintain the majority’s support. When competition arises between countries in the sports arena, the representatives become like political figures that represented an entire race. The winning team is clearly defined just like in warfare. For example, football matches are able to conjure the ghosts of past wars.
During the 2004 Asia Nations Cup final, which pitted China against Japan, Chinese supporters wore 1930's-style Japanese military uniforms to express their hostility to the Japanese team. With the strong feelings of rivalry, the past comes alive again. George Orwell wrote the “The Sporting spirit”, which brings out the idea that at the international level, sports is frankly mimic warfare. Hence we can see that sports is too closely linked to politics as sports provide a venue for symbolic competition between nations.
In conclusion, today sports is consistently overlapping with politics and become too closely linked, this is especially when political affairs strongly influence the nature of sports, the main purpose of enjoying and participating in the game and run contrary to the ideals of sports. Sports also is able to influence political affairs and relationships between countries, today, it is a two-way connection and they share a direct relationship, such that sports is able to represent a political war between countries.