Policies of international relations of national olympic committees

Por: Amalia Drakou, Dimitris Gargalianos, Pantelis Nassis e Yanni Afthinos.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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While sport can contribute to reinforce national identity and develop positive international relations, little has been done to investigate the formal processes for promoting international relations through sport. Taylor et al. (1999)[1] have attempted to investigate the role of sports policy in international relations via a two country survey (Australia and Greece) of national and state level sporting organizations. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether and in what ways sport is used as a means to promote international relations at NOC’s level.


A questionnaire was sent to all NOC’s (200 in total), 62 of whom returned it representing a rate of 31%. Questionnaires were divided into four sections including questions related to: a) the nature of formal policy on international relations of sport; b) the policy steps taken for promoting international relations through sport; c) the personal opinions on the way sport may be used to promote international relations; and d) socio demographic information of the respondents. Data were analysed through descriptive statistics.


Results indicated that: a) most of the NOC’s responded did not have a formal policy of international relations in sport (n=42, 67.2%); b) the main form for promoting international relations were through participation in high level international competition (n=37, 59.1%), and through joining international coalitions to lobby drug policy makers (n=40, 63.9%); c) the majority of the respondents agreed that sport is an effective means for promoting international relations (n=55, 88.7%). Most of the respondents expressed a positive view with regard to the substantial contribution of their nation’s sports persons (athletes and sport personalities) in promoting their country’s international relations. Finally, most of the respondents support the institution of a coordinating committee for international sporting relations in their country (n=49, 78.8%).

Discussion / Conclusions

While sport has been recognised as possessing the potential for developing and promoting international fellowship [2], most NOC’s are silent in explicitly pursuing achievements in this respect. Most of the NOC’s surveyed appear to pursue recruitment and training of athletes as a means to promote a positive image of their country internationally, with limited
attention given to the impact of sport on the relations in the global arena[3-4]. In conclusion, the institution of a coordinating committee for international sporting relations may facilitate the development of international relations expertise within the NOC’s.


[1] Taylor, T., Quick, S., & Garglianos, D. (1999). International Relations and Sport - An Australian Perspective. 14tth Annual Conference North American Society for Sport Management. Vancouver: University of British Columbia, 2-5 June.
[2] Maguire, J. (1999). Global Sport: Identities, Societies, Civilizations. Cambridge: Polity Press.
[3] Cashmore, E. (1996). Making Sense of Sport. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
[4] Coakley, J. (1994). Sport and Society: Issues and Controversies. Boston: Irwin McGraw-Hill.



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