South Asian scholars ask not to mix geopolitics with Beijing Olympics

Scholars from South Asian countries have said that the Beijing Winter Olympics, scheduled to be held in the first week of February in Beijing, should be an occasion for promoting peace, friendship and unity among the countries.

NL Today

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Kathmandu: Scholars from South Asian countries, including Nepal, have said that the Beijing Winter Olympics, scheduled to be held in the first week of February in Beijing, should be an occasion for promoting peace, friendship and unity among the countries in the world.

They made such remarks during the webinar entitled  “The Beijing Winter Olympics and Its Interpretation of the Olympic Spirit of Peace, Friendship and Unity” organized on Friday by Shenzhen University of China. The event moderated by Dr Khadga KC, who is a professor at Tribhuvan University’s Department, was also participated in by Ph.D. scholars from Nepal and China. 

Addressing the webinar, Professor Dai Yonghong of Shenzhen University said that Beijing is not only holding the Winter Olympics to demonstrate Chinese modernity and wealth, but also to share and promote prosperity and peace among worldwide partners. “Beijing wants to promote peace, prosperity and unity through the Olympics,” he said.

Dr Yukteshwor Kumar, Professor at the University of Bath and Deputy Mayor Bath City, UK, emphasized the significance of the Olympics and questioned why a few Western powers are attempting to mix politics into the games, despite the fact that it is a completely different domain. “A few athletes from the United Kingdom are participating in the Winter Olympics,” he said.

Likewise, Palliyaguruge Ravindra, who is a senior assistant professor in political science from the University of Sabaragamuwa in Sri Lanka, shared his thoughts on how the Olympics could be a soft power for promoting public diplomacy and global peace. 

Dr Lailufur Yasmin, professor at Dhaka University’s Department of International Relations, expressed displeasure with the way certain powerful countries are attempting to bring geopolitics into the games. She expressed the concern that skipping the Beijing Winter Olympics might increase rivalry among the powerful countries. “It might increase rivalry among the big nations,” she said. “Global community should support the Beijing Olympics. Sporting events can be an opportunity to develop understanding and peace among stakeholders,” she added.

Likewise, Dr Minhas Majeed Khan, Professor at the Department of International Relations at Peshawar University, argued that Olympic-style major events can promote multilateralism, understanding and peace, even across competing nation-states. 

Participating PhD scholars from Nepal and China stressed on the need to use Beijing Olympics as a means of soft power diplomacy to narrow down the differences among nations and promote larger cooperation and discourage confrontation. 

Madhusudan Bhattarai, a PhD scholar of International Relations at Tribhuvan University, said sports can be used as soft power diplomacy. Prasanta BK, a Nepali PhD student at Sichuan University, recalled the ping-pong diplomacy of the 1970s, wondering why the country (alluding to the US) that practiced ping-pong diplomacy at one time is calling for the boycott of the Olympic event. Neisha Kunwar, a PhD candidate at Shenzhen University in China, argued that big events such as the Beijing Winter Olympics should be used as a means of building understanding and peace among the participating nations.

The Olympic Games, which is considered as a world-class sporting event integrating sportsmanship, national spirit and internationalism, symbolizing world peace, friendship and unity, is an international movement, which emphasizes mutual understanding, friendship and unity. The Olympic Games have also played an important role in international relations. Historically, countries with tense and even conflict-ridden relations have participated in the Olympics and peacefully competed against each other. The US and the Soviet Union had participated in the Olympics games during the Cold War.

As the US-China relations are fraught with confrontation and conflict rather than cooperation and understanding at the moment, the US has called for a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics going to be held in Beijing.  “Canceling or boycotting sporting events may only help to further inflame tensions between nations. Sport itself is a soft power to promote diplomacy between rivals. It should not be made the victim of geopolitical competition,” said Dai Yonghong. 

According to him,   the Olympic Games should not be used to create political confrontation but as a means to cooperate on urgent issues such as climate change and pandemics to protect the planet for future generations. “As the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, Beijing will live up to its promise and present a simple, safe and exciting sports event to the world, fully displaying the Olympic spirit and inspiring the world to overcome the epidemic,” Dai added.

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