"CAN SPORT DIPLOMACY CONTRIBUTE TO BUILDING A STRONGER EUROPE IN THE WORLD?"

"CAN SPORT DIPLOMACY CONTRIBUTE TO BUILDING A STRONGER EUROPE IN THE WORLD?"

This is the title of the Conference hosted by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU taking place in Lisbon on 3 and 4 June 2021.

Prior to the public conference, there was an informal meeting of EU Directors-General for Sport on 2 June 2021. The meeting kicked off with a structured dialogue with representatives from the sport movement including EOC acting president Niels Nygaard. The program included roundtable discussions concerning the implementation of the EU Work Plan 2021-2024 and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the recovery of the sports sector.

By bringing representatives of Member States, experts and key players in the field of sport diplomacy together, the conference aims to provide an overview of sport diplomacy in the context of EU external relations, highlight the role of sport in promoting peace, contributing to human development, breaking down cultural barriers and fostering the inter-sectional dimension of sport and underline the EU’s increased focus on external relations through the Erasmus+ programme. 

In the opening session of the conference, Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, was highlighting the "power of sport to promote values, peace and human rights in situations that lack political agreement". He also drew attention to the political neutrality of sport and rejected political boycotts of Olympic Games as diplomatic tool because that is  "against the mission of the Olympic Games" and diminishes the complementary abilities of sport and politics to build bridges.

The first session on sport diplomacy in the context of EU external relations provided examples of sport diplomacy from the US and France and made clear, that sport diplomacy in the EU is still a young topic but worthwhile committing to.

Friday's sessions delves deeper into specific areas of sport diplomacy with athletes as “diplomats in tracksuits”, grassroot sport diplomacy and sport in EU development policy.

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