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The Correlation Of Sports & Politics

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Sport is a very spread phenomenon today, its presence reflected on many levels, from the connections between sport and politics, sport and the media, the impact of sport on the economy of a society, connection with the local community, tourism, etc. Several international sports events, such as the Olympic Games, World Cups are of interest to millions of people, regardless of age, gender, race or social status. Therefore, sport plays a very important role in people’s lives.

Sport has been an instrument of politics and diplomacy ever since the time of ancient Greece when the Olympic Games were presented in the honor of Zeus and were held every four years. Not forget to mention that, since the 9th century, during the Games, there has been a truce for competitors and fans. The armistice was set up to confirm the role of sport as a means of promoting peaceful relations at the international level. Therefore, Sports diplomacy implies the use of sport as an instrument of strengthening foreign policy goals and interests and as a growing source of ‘soft power’.

Sport and politics relationship has a very long tradition. Sport has had and still has a significant role to play in creating, maintaining and changing national identities.

That bond between politics and sport is the most clearly expressed during the war and transitional divisions of some states. In that period, athletes and sports teams were often used as symbols of the nation-state. Regarding that, States were using sports success to promote themselves and emphasize superiority and often moral as well. This increases the homogeneity of nations, so often sports become an expression of the “war” without weapons.

One of the oldest examples of political interference in sports is the 1936 Berlin Olympics. On the first day of the Games, Adolf Hitler congratulated three athletes, two Germans, and one Finnish athlete. Just hours later, two black Americans won medals, but Hitler avoided meeting them and shaking hands. The Olympic Committee said that he must congratulate everyone or anyone. Hitler refused to shake hands with any other athlete until the end of the 1936 Games.

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1968 American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos won gold and bronze in the 200 meters at the Mexico Olympics. They both raised fists in black gloves, as a symbol of salute to American Black rights fighters. Australian competitor Peter Norman won silver and supported his American counterparts by wearing the Olympic Human Rights Project badge. Both US competitors have been banned by OI under pressure from the President, Avery Brundage. The American public turned against them, and death threats came to their families. An Australian colleague did no better. He received a warning from the Australian Olympic Committee, and in 1972 they did not allow him to compete in the Olympic Games under the Australian flag, even though he had met the Olympic norm 13 times.

Third, a very good example comes from Croatia. Croatia has successful athletes who perform in the largest European and world clubs and as such make each Croatian national team strong and recognizable in every respect (football players especially). Players as such represent their homeland in the world in the best possible way. On the other hand, Croatian politicians are not an ideal example of honesty, justice, and diligence, so it is necessary to strike a balance between sport and politics so that too many politicians and sports politicians at the national level do not harm the reputation of a particular national team. As Croatia is a land of successful athletes, it would be ideal if politics do not take the impact of politics on sports and sporting events.

As power is represented in all segments of human life, it is also present in the world of sport. As sport is very widespread and brings together many fans of all kinds of sports, we often witness the interference of politics in sports. The results of policy interference in sport can be positive, but unfortunately also negative, as the sport is governed by various laws, acts, and rules, the link between sport and politics is inevitable.

Today, politics has an increasing influence on the sport. Unfortunately, we have witnessed that some athletes receive greater funding to work after active involvement in political activities. Sport influences politics primarily through an image, and a few examples will show how politics ‘fights’ for athletes and uses them to promote themselves. Sport is also used as a means of drawing attention to a political event.

Sports and politics should positively have a bond when promoting your nationality and state, and all other negative impacts should be kept to a minimum if possible not at all. It would be ideal if politics did not occupy a leading position in sports, but rather contribute to even better athlete performance through its actions.

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The Correlation Of Sports & Politics. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from
“The Correlation Of Sports & Politics.” Edubirdie, 24 Feb. 2022,
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