From Birmingham to Berlin: sports legacy expert joins global debate

A University of Birmingham expert on how sport is instrumentalised for non-sporting aims, including high-profile sports events like the Olympic Games and football World Cup, will address a major conference in Berlin.

Dr Jonathan Grix will join international panel of experts to discuss how sport can both unite people around the globe, whilst serving ‘wrong’ purposes when large-scale sports events are exploited by nation states.

A global expert on ‘sports mega-events’ from the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, Dr Grix will speak at the Berlin launch of ‘Culture Report Vol. 8 / EUNIC Yearbook 2016’ on Friday, 4 November.

Dr Grix said: “Sport can unite the world and has a positive part to play in integrating refugees, resolving conflict, promoting human rights and fighting racism.

“But states are increasingly using sports mega-events (SMEs), such as the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup as part of ‘soft power’ strategies - a persuasive approach to international relations, typically involving the use of economic or cultural influence.

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“Countries such as Germany used the 2006 World Cup to alter a tarnished image. I am looking forward to joining my colleagues in Berlin to debate whether global sport can be both a strategic instrument for foreign cultural policy and a role model for civil society.”

He added that SMEs leave a legacy and massive events such as the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro tended not to observe the mistakes of the past – often becoming major liabilities for host cities whilst delivering few of the promised benefits.
The publication will be launched with a panel debate, including Dr Grix and Julian Rieck from Humboldt Universität Berlin, exploring the connections between sport and foreign (cultural) policy with Sebastian Körber, vice secretary general of ifa.

Panellists will explore questions such as: ‘Can sport serve developmental goals?’ ‘Does nation-branding through large-scale sport celebrations still make sense?’ and ‘What can the average citizen learn from an extreme mountaineer?’

ENDS

For more information or interviews, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or +44 (0)782 783 2312.