On 3rd December 2018, BINUS UNIVERSITY hosted an academic forum with the Embassy of France on the topic of ‘Geopolitics and Sports: International Challenges’. Held at its campus in Jakarta, the event was attended by students from the International relations undergraduate program and discussed the role of sports as a means to influence social, political, and diplomatic relations. Present at the forum was Mr Cyrille Bret as lecturer of Geopolitics at the Paris Institute for Political Science, Mr Arnaud Amouroux, an independent expert and guest lecturer of peace and security, and Mr Barthélémy Courmont, a Senior Research Fellow at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs, as well as delegates from the French Embassy.
Mr Amouroux began the forum by illustrating that the influence of geopolitics on the sporting industry can be far-reaching. He cited examples such as the boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow by western European countries and the United States due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the case of the ‘ping-pong diplomacy’, whereby the US and the People’s Republic of China exchanged table tennis players in the early 1970s after 20 years of no diplomatic relations.
Mr Bret continued the talk and explained that major sporting events could also be used as a driver to mobilize investments from the private sector in addition to garnering support for a ruling government. He showcased the example of the investments made for the 2018 World Cup in Russia which gave president Vladimir Putin a positive image in the local media and thus provided a platform from where he could gather support for his re-election bid prior to the tournament.
Mr Courmont finished the event by discussing the idea of sports being used to showcase the identity of a country and its people. This sense of national pride is an incentive for that country to invest in infrastructure and coaching, enabling its athletes to participate competitively in international sporting events and in the long-term, attract greater investments.
Through this latest forum, BINUS UNIVERSITY hoped to demonstrate to students that the combination of sports and politics should be harnessed to bring countries together, improve bilateral relations, and encourage the exchange of knowledge on diverse sporting disciplines.