Sporting Events and World Peace

Essay Topic | Do international sports events contribute to world peace (international relations)?

This is a really common essay topic which appears in many tests such as TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, PTE as well as college and university writing assignments and the essay question appears in various versions such as those below:

Popular sporting events like the football (soccer) World Cup and Olympic games are essential for easing international tensions and providing a safe outlet for expressing patriotism.

Sport events can be used to encourage world peace.

What is the role of sports in promoting world peace? Consider international sports events such as the Olympics and other competitive sports.

Sporting events play a significant role in maintaining good international relations.

International sporting events make an important contribution to international relations and world peace.

The particular essay question might ask you if you agree or disagree with the statement, to discuss both sides of the argument (that sport can contribute to world peace or not) and give your own opinion, or to address one specific aspect of such sporting events such as:

‘the role of sporting events in international relations (world peace)’

so be sure to address the point adequately.

Here are some points to help you organize your own ideas about things to include in your essay.


  • Opportunity for people from different countries to meet and get to know each other better
  • Allows patriotic feelings to be expressed in a safe manner, a safe outlet for rivalry, tension or even hate between countries
  • International media scrutiny of hosting country can help highlight social problems/conflicts and inform a wider audience of issues related to that country
  • Can be used to maintain/reopen/foster diplomatic relations. Example: in 2008, Armenia and Turkey used World Cup match to restart diplomatic dialogue after many years of tension
  • Helps unite communities behind their national team
  • Allows people to forget about other worries/concerns – an enjoyable distraction
  • Opportunity for host country to showcase its culture, heritage and opportunities for foreign investment/business
  • Provides ideal opportunity for world leaders to meet in an informal setting


  • Encourages nationalism, potential for violence between fans
  • Pressure of competition often detracts from the enjoyment of participation
  • Controversial incidents involving athletes, competitors, players can cause tension between countries. Example: 1969 World Cup, El Salvador vs. Honduras, Honduras won which led to long term tension between both countries and a brief war
  • Not all countries participate in such events
  • Cost of hosting such events can be extremely expensive for host country
  • Little evidence to support serious contribution to ‘world peace’ although relations between certain countries can sometimes benefit

Related Ideas

  • Ancient Greece – when the original Olympics were held, conflicts ceased for the duration of the games. This is not necessarily the case nowadays. Example: terrorist attack at 1972 Munich Olympic games
  • More conducive to world peace when teams are multi-national with competitors from different countries collaborating together, Example: Football (soccer) teams like Manchester United bring together players from all over the world to play on the same team

For further information on the concept of sports peacebuilding and specific examples of peace programs based on sports check out this essay about sports and peacebuilding.