A country that has devoted a true cult to sports since Soviet times, Russia is now excluded from the organization and participation in major international events. A real setback for his sporting diplomatic strategy.
Anthony Schaub – Founder of The Consultancy Group
Vladimir Putin was recently removed from his role as president of the International Judo Federation.
But as you have already noticed, between the president’s personal staging and the colossal investment in international sporting events, Russia is a sports nation. The sports culture at the national level remains almost a cult in this country with more than 145 million inhabitants.
A long-term strategy was put in place more than 15 years ago to host top sporting events. We all remember the Olympics in Sochi in 2014, among the most expensive in history, but which helped to put this coastal city, which is very popular with tourists (also used for a Formula 1 track), on the map.
Other countries have also chosen this strategy: to use sports to reveal their culture, but also to open their doors to the West. It is without a doubt a fine business card and a diplomatic and tourist asset – soft power.
However, everything came to a head on February 24 with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, followed by a string of cancellations and sanctions. What will happen to all these international events and tens of thousands of people involved in their organization?
We have been able to identify more than 20 international sporting events that have been canceled since the beginning of the year:
FIFA and UEFA have suspended all events in Russia and move the Champions League final from St. Petersburg. Petersburg to Paris.
On February 25, F1 announced the cancellation, for 2022, of the Sochi scene.
The International Federation of University Sports (FISU) also had to find a new organizer for their first FISU World University Championships Combat Sports scheduled for October in Yekaterinburg.
“The challenge is diverse for sports business agencies, especially to offer real geographical diversity to the bodies and enable them to distribute their events around the world, which until now have been concentrated in Western countries.”
Among the notable sanctions, the Silverstone circuit in F1 officially banned Russian teams and drivers from competing in the 2022 edition of the race, and recently the organizers of Wimbledon denied the participation of Russian and Belarusian players.
Some sports business agencies have made the achievement of these prestigious international championships and events their specialty. The challenge is manifold, in particular to offer real geographical diversity to the authorities and enable them to distribute their events around the world, which until now have been concentrated in Western countries. It also opens up these events for new fans and attracts potential new sponsors. It is also, as mentioned above, a powerful tool for soft power for certain countries that want to open up to the world.
Current geopolitics seem to complicate their role and mission to a great extent.
Hoping that diplomacy through sport will soon return to the top step of the podium.
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