Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sport and Politics

Sadly over the last few couple of weeks we have been witness to several occurences where sport has been badly overshadowed by politics or terrorism.

As a lover of sport I have always found it remarkable that it is often used to as a way of creating leverage through the influence politics has on these situations.

The three most recent incidents are:

  • the visa row in Dubai, when two Israeli tennis players were denied entry because of where they came from. In this case, due to some fairly heavy international pressure and fairly obvious financial threatening, the Dubai authorities relented allowing the second of the two banned players to enter.
  • The second tennis incident is the David Cup match in Malmo that was played behind closed doors,without any spectators from either side (Sweden or Israel), under the guise of security considerations. In the background to this decision there seems to have been some political influence, rather than pure security based concerns. In this case it does not seem to have worked out for the Swedes as they lost the tie.
  • Finally and far more seriously was the terrorist attack in Pakistan on the Sri Lankan cricket team. This is an outrageous crime, which will create potential long term damage to cricket in general and Pakistan in particular.
We are living in very unstable times, and there is increasing tension around the globe as uncertainty on both political and economic problems blend to form a potentially toxic blend of unrest.

Perhaps it is naive to believe that we can keep sport and international politics separate, but we must hope that this remains the case. otherwise it will be a signal that there is very little left in our lives not tainted by the wider political environment.


  1. Interesting post. But one could perhaps argue that the west (the good guys) started politicizing sports with the sporatic bans on the Chinese olympics. Thoughts? Of course there is a difference between bans - like with China and Dubai - and sensless killings, but then again there are major differences betwen western culture and Pakistan-like countries.

  2. One could also argue that the sports on South Africa had positive effect. The problem there are so many problematic political and other disputes, that the use of politics to defend a political position, itself becomes the subject for domestic and national politics rather than "doing the right thing"