Considering the effect sports and sporting events have on the fabric of society, it can be said that it serves as a platform where many socialize. It can also serve as a means to influence diplomatic, social, and political relations, transcending cultural differences and bringing people together. However, bringing politics into sports is going against what ‘sports’ are generally meant to do. Sports can build bridges and address social challenges.
Nevertheless, the recent decision taken by the House of Federation (HOF), which ordered the federal government to sever ties with the Tigray Regional state for holding regional elections, is one political decision which has affected sports and related events.
To this effect, the Ethiopian Sports Commission decided to exclude the region from taking part in sporting events, adhering to the order of the government. Following its decision, many criticized the move forcing the commission to reply.
However, it can be recalled that various nations have been banned from participating in sporting events due to Governments interference in such matters; of which the International Olympics Committeeis highly critical off. And in light of the recent ban, the Ethiopian Olympics committee (EOC) was the first to oppose the decision.
Nevertheless, there are sporting moments that can solve or ease the political tension in a nation.On October 27, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach shared his experience and outlinedthe overall importance the Olympic Games have regarding politics in sports.
“Participating at the Olympic Games is an incredible experience for every athlete. But it is also humbling when you realize that you are part of something bigger. You are part of an event that unites the world. In the Olympic Games, we are all equal. Everyone respects the same rules, irrespective of social background, gender, race, sexual orientation, or political belief, the president said.”
Bachsaid that the Olympic Games are not about politics. The IOC, as a civil non-governmental organization, is strictly neutral all the time. Neither awarding the Games, nor participating, is a political judgment regarding the host country. The Olympic Games are governed by the IOC not by governments.
“The IOC issues the invitation to National Olympic Committee’s to participate.The invitation does not come from the government of the host country. It is the NOC which then invites their political authorities to accompany their athletes to the Games. The host country’s head of state is only allowed to say one sentence, scripted by the IOC, to officially open the Games. No other politician is allowed to play any role whatsoever, not even during medal ceremonies, the president said.”
“The Olympic Games cannot prevent wars and conflicts. Nor can they address all the political and social challenges in the world. But they can set an example for a world where everyone respects the same rules and one another. They can inspire to solve problems in friendship and solidarity. They can build bridges leading to better understanding among people. In this way, they can open the door to peace,” he concluded.