Australian government ties sport into diplomacy with new roundtable

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The Federal Government has convened a round table on sports diplomacy.

“Sport is one of Australia’s strengths,” said Foreign Minister Penny Wong.

“The Albanese government is using all elements of national power to increase Australia’s influence in an increasingly competitive world.”

The announcement came weeks before the start of the Paris Olympic Games on July 26 and not long after four NRL teams played their opening round matches in Las Vegas.

The revamped ‘Sport as Diplomacy’ program also comes at a time when Port Adelaide chairman David Koch said in recent weeks: “We’ve heard some rumours from Canberra exploring whether we would be interested in coming back…” and resuming Port Adelaide’s annual regular season match in China, which was played in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The damaging trade sanctions between Australia and China have largely been resolved in recent months, with key Australian exports once again finding a place on Chinese shelves. Beef is the latest industry to be spared from the dispute.

As the Foreign Minister announced on Saturday, the federal government will “give national sporting organisations and peak associations a seat at the negotiating table, reflecting their central role in promoting Australia’s interests through sport”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will coordinate a new sports diplomacy advisory group.

The group will look at the strategic and economic opportunities and risks facing international sport, including upcoming events in Australia and abroad, and ways in which governments and the sport sector can work together to advance “shared priorities”.

The advisory group will replace an advisory council following a review. The new group will also host a broad-based annual roundtable event.

The aim of the diplomatic restructuring is to take advantage of the time before the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brisbane.

Sports Minister Anika Wells said competing on the field had many benefits.

“On the road to Brisbane 2032, we will host some of the world’s biggest sporting events and have an unprecedented opportunity to showcase Australian excellence and expertise in innovation, tourism, services and products,” she said.

Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said the sport transcends boundaries.

“By using the unifying power of sport, we can build bridges and promote goodwill between diverse communities around the world,” he said.

Read related topics:Penny Wong

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