london olympics 2012

China's government already encourages participant sports as an enduring piece of its diplomacy that calls on citizens to understand the world as is and then conquer a piece of it. Children eagerly attach to soccer as taught in school or to basketball as seen on television. Their elders play ping pong or badminton in public parks, with grimaces revealing a passion to win, not just have fun. The government grooms its top athletes at specialized universities to play in international events.

While the athletes have been competing for medals at the London Olympics, their countries have been duking it out in a different type of games. Think of it as the Branding Olympics, with the competitors being more than 40 national hospitality houses set up across London to host VIPs and medalists, welcome visitors and showcase what the countries have to offer.

...the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games is estimated to have been watched live by more than 1 billion people. Therefore, for a few hours on the night of July 27th, Britain enjoyed a complete monopoly of television sets across the globe. Through its narrative in the opening ceremony it was able to highlight specific features of Britain and either introduce or remind the world of these.

Australia has always punched above its weight at the Olympics and was perhaps the first country to realize the soft power that can be harnessed by sporting success on the international stage.

...the Government’s ambition is nothing less than enhancing Britain’s reputation across the globe. The goal of its innovative cross-departmental GREAT campaign, of which the Olympics is the high point to date, is to refresh the brand of the home nations as amongst the top places in the world to visit, live, work, study and do business...

Fundamentally, public diplomacy needs to be about more than explaining American policies to the world, explaining American ideals or telling foreigners about how the United States is a great country. It needs to demonstrate to foreign publics that their concerns, desires, aspirations and opinions are relevant to America.

The mass and velocity of tweets, Facebook posts and even blog posts surrounding the Olympics have been extraordinarily high. But, if you analyze the content, you'll see that the high volume conversations are focused mostly on interesting stories.

August 6, 2012

As Jamaica celebrates its golden anniversary of independence on Aug. 6, its Olympic sprinters look set to dominate in London...Beyond Jamaica's impressive national branding and Olympics fame, how would you describe the country's feeling of accomplishment, and perhaps also disappointment, as it approaches its 50th anniversary?