SOAS University of London

CISD partnered on "The Power of Sports and Diplomacy" at New York University

22 February 2019

The Centre of International Studies and Diplomacy partnered with France-based think club Sport & Démocratie and New York University's Preston Roberts Tisch Institute for Global Sport for a half-day conference, "The Power of Sport and Diplomacy," on February 5, 2019. Over the course of two roundtables and a keynote address, the conversation examined the nexus of sport and diplomacy on the global stage, especially as it pertains to athletes, teams and leagues, coaches, and other non-traditional sports diplomacy ambassadors. 

The first roundtable, “The Power of Communication in Global Sport,” unpacked the concept of sports diplomacy and how the Internet and rise of social media have expanded the pool of sports diplomats practitioners beyond the traditional diplomatic realm as athletes, coaches, teams, and others communicate, negotiate, and represent on a daily basis in the global sports space. Moderator and SOAS Research Associate Dr. Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff led panelists Chris Dial (The Basketball Embassy), Sam Marchiano (NYU Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport), Grant Wahl (Sports Illustrated and FOX Sports), and Stevy Worah-Ozimo (YouthSports Academy and SEED Project) through an examination of how they’ve witnessed sports diplomacy make a difference in the field bridging cultural divides as global communications transform sports events and actions beyond national borders.

The second roundtable, “The Future of Sport and Diplomacy,” explored some of the unique features of sport as an instrument of soft power and its ability to attract and co-opt, rather than coerce (hard power). Moderators Dr. Hakim Zermouni and Youcef Ouldyassia (Sport & Démocratie) asked panelists Dr. J Simon Rofe (CISD, SOAS), Amadou Gallou Fall (NBA Africa), Cameron Myler (NYU Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport), and Jérémie Bréchet (Sport & Démocratie) to link their experience of how sports, institutions like the NBA, and high profile athletes function as non-state actors in diplomacy (being key players in diplomacy), how they work with other institutions and how they are using sport as a tool for peace, education, development, and not to forget, climate change.

Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, founding President of Sport & Sustainability International and Environmental Science Advisor to the New York Yankees, illuminated the role of “Sport at the Service of Humanity” as he urged the audience to “do more.” Elaborating on the ways that environmental science and climate change play into the global sport and sports diplomacy equations, Dr. Hershkowitz added a deeply enriching layer to the conversation, one that ties into many foreign policy agendas and is often overlooked by the sporting publics—although as he noted, a consideration that plays a firm role in the overarching policies of sports teams, leagues, federations, and other stakeholders around the world. 

Coverage and online discussion of the event included a global set of stakeholders from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Dubai, Qatar, Malaysia, Australia, China, and beyond via the #sportsdiplomacy hashtag on Twitter. 


VIDEO: Opening Remarks & The Power of Communication in Global Sport Roundtable.
VIDEO: Grant Wahl's Presentation.
VIDEO: The Future of Sport and Diplomacy Roundtable.
VIDEO: Dr Simon Rofe's remarks.
VIDEO: Luge athletes fight climate change.
VIDEO: Sport at the Service of Humanity Keynote by Dr. Allen Hershkowitz.
PHOTO GALLERY: The Power of Sport and Diplomacy Conference.
ARTICLE: Christian Science Monitor - As global advocates, athletes grab baton from flagging governments.

For further information, contact: