📩 27/09/2023 12:23
International sports events can also be interpreted as a window of opportunity for states. China, which is hosting the Asian Games, did not miss this opportunity. There are three main reasons that make China advantageous in this regard: Experience, innovation and the current state of international relations.
Serious diplomats wearing suits do not always open the door to cooperation in international relations. It has been proven in the past that a skillfully organized sports competition and talented athletes are the architects of interstate rapprochement. The history of the Asian Games is the most vivid example of the approach that experts call "sports diplomacy". The Asian Games, which wanted to bring together the states of the region through sports after the Second World War, were first organized in India in 1951. Over the past 72 years, the Asian Games have not only brought thousands of athletes from dozens of different countries together on the field, but also given states the opportunity to express themselves.
The fact that China is hosting the 19th Asian Olympics this year makes this organization important in many respects. The first of these is undoubtedly the importance and experience China attaches to "sports diplomacy".
“A good athlete, a master diplomat”
China managed to reduce the tensions with the United States during the Cold War with a sports invitation. China invited the US table tennis team to the country in 1971, and the rapprochement that followed this step went down in history as "Pingpong diplomacy". Mao, the country's founding leader, was not wrong when he described Chinese table tennis team captain Zhuang Zedong, who led this rapprochement, as "not only a good athlete but also a master diplomat."
The second issue that makes the Asian Games important is the current situation of global politics. Prof. In his statement to CRI Türk, Cüneyt Akalın drew attention to the conflicts between Asian countries on some issues and said, "Despite all the disputes in the region, China hosts more than 45 thousand athletes from 12 countries." said.
A global message from the “unique Asian”
In his speech at the opening of the Asian games, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, 'We should use sports to promote peace, develop good neighborliness and mutually beneficial relations, and reject the Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation. “We must make Asia the fulcrum of world peace.” He used his expressions.
While the Asian Games are “uniquely Asian,” as Xi put it, their impact remains international. According to journalist and writer Mehmet Ali Güller, the most important indicator of this is that Syrian President Bashar Assad, along with many other leaders, visited China for the Asian Games. Güller noted that the Beijing administration, which established peace between Iran and Saudi Arabia, has also increased its efforts for the Damascus administration to participate in the international community. Güller also stated that the dynamism that will occur in regional trade with Syria's participation in the Belt and Road Initiative will also benefit Turkey if the necessary steps are taken.
In line with the green spirit of the period
The third reason that makes the Asian Games valuable is that the competitions are environmentally friendly in line with the spirit of the period. Because China not only aims to use wind and solar energy in all 56 areas where the Asian Games are held, but also aims to "turn the whole city green". Xu Manshan, who runs a rehabilitation project in the city, said of the steps taken: "In addition to dredging the 12-kilometer river channel, we have restored the flood carrying capacity of the waterway by removing the dams upstream and downstream and transforming 'dead water' into 'living water'." He summarized it with his words.
Considering fine details, from using environmentally friendly digital fireworks to burning torches with menatol, which does not cause carbon emissions, China used green electricity produced with sustainable energy for the first time in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Türkiye should not remain indifferent to sports diplomacy
Like China, Turkey is among the countries that know that sports competitions create diplomatic opportunities. For example, the most concrete step towards normalization between Turkey and Egypt was taken at the World Cup held in Qatar. President Erdoğan, who went to Qatar to watch the opening match of the World Cup, signaled a new era by shaking hands with Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Pointing out that Turkey should not remain indifferent to the Asian Games, Prof. While Cüneyt Akalın emphasized that this is a requirement of the new world, journalist and writer Mehmet Ali Güller also commented, "At a time when the Asian century has begun, Turkey should take its place in such organizations for both sports and diplomatic reasons."